MOMENTUM is gathering behind a fund to help a non-league footballer pay medical bills after sustaining a serious injury.

More than £1,300 donations have been received so far to assist Witton Albion striker Connor Hughes, who has been hit with an £8,000 bill for the surgery he needed following a leg injury he suffered in Witton Albion's draw at Macclesfield on February 7.

Albion signed the 29-year-old from Daisy Hill four months ago to bolster their forward line and he was doing a grand job as the club climbed the ladder of Northern Premier League West in a bid to reach the play-offs and secure an immediate return to the top flight following last season's relegation.

In the 13 games the former Oldham Athletic frontman played, he scored 11 goals – including a record equalling four goals on his home debut.

A contract followed that keeps Hughes, who has also spent time with Hyde United, Halifax Town, Bradford PA, Worcester City, Warrington Town, Stalybridge Celtic, Curzon Ashton, Atherton Collieries, Ashton United, Radcliffe and Widnes, in red and white stripes until the end of next season.

The injury he sustained at Macclesfield was diagnosed as a grade 2 LCL and micro fracture.

However, the club has revealed that the injury was misdiagnosed and that Hughes needed to seek help from the Professional Footballers Association.

After another scan it transpired he had a grade 3 full-torn ligament of the LCL, a torn popliteus tendon and a broken bone.

Semi-professional footballers, especially those self employed outside the football world, are at risk of damaging their livelihood every time they pull on a shirt and cross the white line.

Insurance only does so much, and so being an injured player at non-league level (even as a contract player) can cause major financial issues and stress.

Hughes' more serious diagnosis meant an expensive operation and unpaid time off work.

The PFA and insurance only help out so much, so initially attempts are being made to try to raise £4,000 via a GoFundMe page on his behalf to cover the remaining cost of the operation – the PFA has paid the other 50 per cent.

He had a successful operation last week and all at the club are hopeful if his recovery goes well that as soon as the splint is removed he can return to work and subsequently he could be back playing football at the start of next season.

Witton manager Jon Macken said: "Connor has been tremendous since joining on and off the pitch and he's a big part of the club's plans going into next season.

"All support is very much appreciated in helping Connor.”