Shropshire Star

Telford Tigers teen star Sam Watkins making positive strides after major heart surgery

Telford Tigers’ teen star Sam Watkins is making “positive strides” after successful major heart surgery.


The 19-year-old forward, a Great Britain youth international, went under the knife at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital early this month and is on the road to recovery.

Watkins, son of head coach and general manager Tom, was born with a hole in his heart – a condition named ventricular septal defect.

He played six times for Tigers at the start of the current season before learning that surgery was required.

A club statement read: “Thoughts and well-wishes have been pouring in for Sam Watkins.

“The good news is that Sam is now back home and on the road to recovery. Each passing day sees him making positive strides, a testament to his strength and the excellent care provided by the QE medical team.

“Sam will continue to receive follow-up care to ensure his long-term recovery. The entire Telford Tigers community is sending Sam our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.”

Tigers have been struck by injury setbacks in the opening months of the National Ice Hockey League campaign, with a number of experienced players sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Hometown favourite Ricky Plant, who has spent the last 10 years with Tigers, had an operation on a persistent shoulder problem he has played through for more than a year.

The club acknowledged the forward’s “true grit” in playing through the pain barrier and focus is now on Plant’s long-term recovery, with a hope he will be able to compete again this season.

Surgery is on the horizon for defenceman Jonathan Weaver, with Danny Rose possibly following suit.

Legendary experienced figure Weaver, 46, is scheduled for surgery on his shoulder in January. The former Durham, Newcastle, Manchester and Coventry man is no stranger to shoulder treatment and his rehabilitation schedule will become more clear in the new year.

Long-serving Rose, 29, has been dealt a blow after the knee injury suffered on the opening day of the season at Solway in Scotland has been confirmed as ‘significant’.

Scans revealed serious damage and Rose is set for talks with specialists about the likelihood of surgery on the knee. Tigers say they are optimistic about an eventual return to the ice.

Watkins’ side are icing just once this weekend, at home to Swindon Wildcats on Sunday.