Video and pictures: Elgin City relief as Darryl McHardy's ankle injury sustained during 4-1 win over Forres Mechanics isn't as bad as first feared
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ELGIN City leg break fears over Darryl McHardy have been allayed after the defender was stretchered off in Tuesday's friendly against Forres Mechanics.
McHardy was taken to Dr Gray's Hospital for x-rays on an ankle injury, and manager Gavin Price admitted he was fearing a fracture or serious damage.
But it is understood that the 25-year-old has sprained his ankle and should be fit for the start of the season in October.
Price felt that McHardy was showing signs of returning to his best and admitted it was "gutting" to see him injured.
The player dislocated his shoulder at the start of last season and struggled to win his place back, eventually being loaned out to Highland League Rothes.
"I could tell he’s at it this season," said Price after the match. "I can just tell his timing is back and it’s because he’s a lot fitter than he was last season.
"He’s listened, he’s put in the work and I feel sorry for him because he looked strong.
"Hopefully it’s not as bad as it could be. because (physio) Andy (Jones) was fearing the worst. It's a bit gutting."
Price is happy that his strikers are scoring in pre-season, with summer signings Josh Peters and Joel MacBeath both on target in Tuesday's win.
With Smart Osadolor netting five in Saturday's 9-1 success over Lossiemouth and Kane Hester also scoring, the manager is pleased with the form of his front men.
"I’m pleased all of our strikers are scoring. We need that this season.
"We are not going to have Shane’s (Sutherland) goals but if we’ve got competition for places, these strikers will keep each other on their toes. And they've all got something different.
"Josh is a renowned finisher, if we get him fit then he’ll score goals, and we all know about Smart and Kane and what they can do, and Joel has shown us he’s got something there as well.
"So it’s really good options we’ve got in that area of the park."
Peters, who netted with his second touch of the game on Saturday as a substitute, opened the scoring against Forres with a header from Russell Dingwall's corner kick.
He added his second on 23 minutes after MacBeath's shot was blocked.
MacBeath himself found the net for the first time for his home town team with a fine lofted effort over keeper Stuart Knight and in off the far post.
Forres pulled one back from a Simon Allan penalty on 31 minutes, and City midfielder Aiden Sopel saw his spot kick saved on the stroke of half time, after he had been fouled by Dale Wood.
After numerous second half substitutes, Forres defender Ross MacPherson deflected a Sopel effort past his own keeper to complete the scoring.
"We were obviously missing all the south guys tonight so we had to make a few changes and bring a few guys in to give them more game time.
"It was always part of the plan to give as many of the boys minutes as we could between the two games. I was pleased with some of the performances from some of the younger guys.
"I have to say I thought Aiden Sopel was excellent. He’s always had potential to do well and it was just whether or not he could get the focus right and both sides of the game, defending and attacking.
"He’s doing himself no harm at all now. I was really pleased with him on Saturday playing a more central role and I thought we would look at him on the left tonight with Conor (O'Keefe) not being here.
"I’m pleased for him, he’s worked hard during the close season and you get what you pout in in football and hopefully he will get his reward."
Elgin's next closed doors match is at home to Highland League champions Brora Rangers on Saturday.
Elgin: McHale (Kelly 82), MacEwan (Jamieson 82), Wilson, McHardy (Trialist A 63), Cooper, Dingwall (Hay 82), Loveland (Thomson 55), Cameron (Trialist B 72), MacBeath, Peters, Sopel (Allen 85).