CLARETS goal-scoring legend Willie Irvine is making slow but steady progress in hospital after a major brain operation.

The 75-year-old suffered a fractured skull and several other broken bones following a fall at his home earlier this month.

Following an operation on Wednesday to relieve the pressure on his brain from a blood clot and drain off fluid, the former Burnley forward has been moved from the high dependency unit at the Royal Preston Hospital.

His eldest son Darren, who is staying with his father overnight, said: “We are getting our dad back.

“He is making slow but steady progress.

“He had two yoghurts for breakfast. That’s a miracle.

“Dad is talking and we are more optimistic.”

Mr Irvine senior, who played 126 times for Burnley FC between 1960 and 1968, suffered a fractured skull, a broken shoulder blade, a broken cheekbone and a fractured eye socket when he fell head-first down the stairs at his Worsthorne home.

He is now on a neurological ward.

His middle son Stephen said: “He is moving in the right direction if slowly.

“He seems to be much more his old self since the operation.

“He wants to go home and my mother Rita wants him home too. It has really shaken her. They are, and always have been, two peas in a pod.

“We are now looking at rehab for when he gets home and have spoken to the Professional Footballers Association and another charity about it.

“The hospital are keeping him hydrated but he is not eating much.

“Mum is going every day as am I and my younger brother Jonathan. Darren stays overnight with him.

“The whole family is mucking in including his nephews and nieces.

“We don’t know when we will get him home but things are moving in the right direction if slowly.”

Mr Irvine, a Northern Ireland international player and former Lancashire Telegraph columnist, scored 78 goals for the Clarets and eight for his country in 23 appearances.

After leaving Turf Moor he also played for Preston North End, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Halifax Town ending his career at Great Harwood before hanging up his boots aged 29 in 1974.

When playing for Northern Ireland he shared a room with Manchester United star George Best and for Burnley formed a prolific goal-scoring partnership with Andy Lochhead.