DERRY CITY captain Kevin Deery fears his playing career could be over as he prepares for emergency surgery on his persistent knee injury.
The 28 year-old Creggan man will go under the surgeon’s knife next Wednesday at the Ulster Independent Hospital in a last ditch attempt to prolong his playing days at Brandywell.
Injuries have restricted Deery to just 13 appearances this season in all competitions - a statistic which doesn’t sit well with the City skipper.
Deery admitted he had probably returned to action too soon this year following evasive surgery on his left knee in the close season which removed loose fragments of cartilage.
He then aggravated his condition in the 0-1 victory over Limerick at Thomond Park in late July in what proved his final appearance of the season and possibly his last in a ‘Candy Stripe’ shirt after 12 years of service!
Frustrated with the recurrence of his knee problems which began troubling him four years ago, Deery refused another ‘clean out’ of the cartilage in his knee or a short-term solution which would include steroid injections.
And after consulting with his surgeon, Deery requested an operation which could either end or save his career.
Battling with thoughts of premature retirement over the last couple of months, he claimed he will make the right decision after the rehabilitation process is complete post-surgery.
Retirement is the worst case scenario of course, but Deery feels the best he can hope for would be to continue playing for another two years at best, should surgery prove a success. “If I don’t get any relief from this then it looks like I could be done playing to be honest,” said Deery last night. “It could be the end of my playing career.
“I’ve been having trouble with my knee for quite some time now,” he explained. “I tore my cartilage a few times and had to have bits removed and I’ve just ended up having very little cartilage left in my knee. “My knee is constantly aching. I had a severe operation called Patella Stabilization surgery last year and I don’t think I set myself up mentally to prepare for that in terms of how long I was going to be out.
“They opened up the side of my knee about an inch or two and put a stitch in my knee cap.
“So that was very traumatic last year and I struggled to get my head around it for a couple of months. I had a clean out of the knee at the start of February and I probably did come back a bit too quick after that,” he admitted.
“I know my knee is not in great shape and it has to be managed at this stage of my career. To get another steroid injection would only be a short term solution and I would still have the same bother.
“So I have been in contact with the surgeon and he’s happy to do a scope and see what’s causing the pain and nullify it.
“I’m coming 29 years-old in December and I should be hitting my peak. I know with the knee operations that I’ve had and the luck I’ve had, that won’t be the case.”
Deery remains positive, however, and hasn’t given up hope of returning to the Derry City set-up next season.
“Hopefully I can still have a big say in the Derry City team and helping them be successful. I’m clinging on to a bit of hope that the surgeon will tell me after this operation that, if I’m managed right, there’s no reason why I can’t play for a year or two. At the end of the season I will re-evaluate everything and spend a bit more time with my family and think about it.
“Yes, this could be my last season with Derry but I still have a bit of hope that there could be a success story after this operation.”
The final two events in Deery’s testimonial year will take place next month.
There will be a Dinner Dance at Everglades Hotel on Saturday, November 9th and a Red and White Collar Boxing night at Guildhall on Friday, November 22nd next. Tickets go on sale soon.