POMPEY ACADEMY coach Mikey Harris has hailed the return of defender Dory Yates from injury and admitted: It’s been a long time coming.
Highly-rated centre-half Yates tasted his first minutes of the season for an inexperienced Blues side at Bournemouth in Tuesday afternoon’s 2-0 loss to the Youth Alliance League south & west division leaders.
For both the 16-year-old and coach Harris, though, the result could not take the shine off a memorable and also poignant comeback.
In February 2013, Yates suffered a broken leg while playing against the Cherries.
Harris, who joined the club in the summer with Yates still in the early stages of his rehabilitation, was overjoyed to grant the 16-year old first-year scholar a 15-minute run-out on the very turf he left in an ambulance last year.
Harris said: ‘Dory’s been out for 11 months and Tuesday afternoon was a case of finally laying the demon to rest.
‘Bournemouth was where he was injured and it was somehow fitting his first game back was against them.
‘The other lad who was unfortunately involved in the incident and takes no blame whatsoever was playing for them as well.
‘Bringing Dory on for 15 minutes has allowed him to mentally put that chapter to bed and start building the rest of his career.’
Harris was quick to pay tribute to the work done by Academy staff and team-mates behind the scenes to ensure Yates’ return to action.
He said: ‘Dory has had a really difficult time for the best part of a year and has had a lot of setbacks.
‘Huge credit goes to our physio Lucas McArdle for his work with Dory and also sports scientist Aidy Cooke, who put in a huge amount of work in terms of his fitness and rehabilitation programmes alongside Lucas.
‘He (Yates) is a great lad and very well liked by the group who have supported him really well throughout his time out.
‘He has always been made to feel involved and always felt a part of it and that is credit to the group of players we have got.’
Yates almost marked his comeback with a goal, sending a diving header narrowly wide for the Blues.
It was a passage of play that Harris believes sums up the young defender’s bravery.
He said: ‘He nearly scored actually. He went diving in with his head.
‘That sums Dory up – a diving header on an Astroturf pitch!
‘He did well for his first 15 minutes back – it was like he had never been away, so I’m pleased for him.’
Yates will hope for more valuable game-time when Pompey Academy travel to Plymouth in the league on Saturday (midday).