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AIRBUS UK Broughton have been given an early Christmas present with the news that club captain Ian Kearney is fit to return after a miserable 14 months on the sidelines.

Kearney, described as the best defender in the Welsh Premier League by boss Andy Preece, was stretchered-off after an innocuous tackle against Rhyl on October 14 last year, which resulted in cruciate knee ligament damage and a broken tibia.

"Having Kearns back is massive for us. He's our captain, our leader and one of our key organisers on the pitch," said Preece.

"We've coped well without him and got into Europe, and the lads who have played at the back have done really well, but getting him back will give everyone a major lift.

"He leads by example, especially when things get tough. He gets people going and he pulls us together because he's massively respected by the other players.

"We've missed him in training, too, because he sets high standards for himself and everyone else. Things have got to be done right and if they're not he'll have his say!

"You take someone like him out of our squad and it leave a huge hole. All credit to him because he's work so hard to get fit, and we're delighted to have him back."

Kearney, who was named in the Welsh Premier team of the season for 2013/14, is expected to be named in the squad for Saturday's trip to Haverfordwest County.