Further setback for Johnson

Date published: October 2 2014

Exeter boss Rob Baxter is confident Tom Johnson will return ‘fitter and stronger’ after confirming the England star is set for surgery.

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter is confident Tom Johnson will return “fitter and stronger” after confirming the England star is set for surgery next week on a neck injury.

The 32-year-old has not played since England’s summer tour to New Zealand in June and although it was hoped the injury would cure itself following intensive rehabilitation with the club’s medical staff, this has not proved the case for the talented forward.

A consultation with a leading specialist last week has confirmed Johnson needs surgery to rectify the issue and his surgery is scheduled for Tuesday.

Johnson, who has won eight caps for England, will be sidelined for around 10-12 weeks.

“It’s one of those awkward ones where there’s a balance between waiting to see if rehab sorts it out or operate and try to get some immediate results,” said Baxter.

“Having spoken to the surgeon and then the surgeon having some debates with our medical staff, because it’s a relatively straightforward one about trimming a bit of bone to free up a nerve, the consensus has been to get the operation done and give Tom the best chance to be good long-term, so we will do it now rather than wait and see.

“Part of the consideration has been that Tom has had two or three seasons where he’s been on England tours so he’s had less proper pre-season time than the other guys. Doing it now ticks a few boxes in that it gives him an extended pre-season period and deals with his neck at the same time.

“I don’t see any reason why he can’t play himself into contention for England.”