Injured Harrogate Town striker still hopeful of playing a part in National League play-offs

Harrogate Town’s players returned to training for the first time in more than three months on Tuesday morning, but one man was notable by his absence.
Mark Beck has scored six times for Harrogate Town in 2019/20. Picture: Matt KirkhamMark Beck has scored six times for Harrogate Town in 2019/20. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Mark Beck has scored six times for Harrogate Town in 2019/20. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Mark Beck remains sidelined with a troublesome hamstring issue that he first picked up back in November.

The towering striker is however hopeful that he will be fit in time to play some part in Town’s National League play-off campaign, assuming that there is one.

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“I had a second injection into the tendon in my hamstring last Wednesday, so hopefully I can be back playing again in six weeks,” 26-year-old Beck revealed.

“Six weeks from the date of the injection takes us to June 22, which is around about the date that we’re expecting our play-off semi-final to be – if it goes ahead.

“So that ties in quite nicely, as long as everything goes to plan. You can’t run for two weeks after the injection but I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure I’m as fit as possible by the middle of July.

“If I can get 10 minutes off the bench, or play any part in helping us get promote, that would be brilliant.

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“I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, but I’m clinging on to this idea. I’m desperate to be able to help the club in the play-offs.”

Initially hamstrung in late November, Beck recovered sufficiently to make two appearances from the substitutes’ bench around the turn of year, only to then break down again in training mid-way through January.

His progress since that set-back was slow, prompting the club to send him for additional tests, with a second MRI scan shedding new light on the situation.

Beck then had an injection into a tendon in his hamstring, but the procedure did not have the desired effect and coronavirus lockdown meant that he was unable to return to hospital for further treatment.

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He was eventually able to arrange a second injection last week and has his fingers crossed that this time his injury heals.

“These injections have an 80 per cent success rate, so I’d like to think that the second one won’t fail as well,” Beck added.

“Apparently, the injured area of my tendon doesn’t get much blood flow, so they’ve injected protein from my blood into the site and hopefully that kick-starts the healing process.

“Fingers crossed it works this time. If it doesn’t then I’d have to decide whether to try a third injection or consider surgery.”

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Although he was briefly considered fit enough to return to action over the festive period, Beck has now been suffering with his hamstring issue for more than half a year and admits that he hasn’t found the past six months the easiest.

“This has been a long process. I initially thought I had a grade one tear and I’d be okay again in a few weeks,” he added.

“I came back then pulled up again and it just seemed to plateau. After a few months, the injury hadn’t got any better.

“I thought we’d be able to sort it with the injection [in March], but then that failed and I haven’t been able to do anything else due to the coronavirus situation.

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“It’s been something like 25 weeks [since Beck last played in the National League]. It’s been a horrendous process to be honest, but if I can get back on the pitch next month and the club gets promoted then it will all have been worth it.”

Harrogate and the rest of English football's fifth tier should know by Wednesday whether the National League play-offs will indeed take place.

Member clubs are currently in the process of voting on the National League board's resolution to conclude 2019/20 using points-per-game ratio, retain promotion and relegation and hold play-offs.

If passed, play-off matches will begin on July 18 and must be finished by July 31.

Town, who finished the season second in the table, are due to play the winner of Boreham Wood versus FC Halifax Town at home in their semi-final.