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I've beaten injury before and I will AGAIN; I will AGAIN!

Irish striker Niall Quinn last night spoke of his determination to fight a serious knee injury all over again.

The Republic of Ireland striker is out of football for the rest of the season after specialists told him yesterday that he has once again severed cruciate ligaments in his knee.

Three years ago his world collapsed around him at Maine Road when he snapped the cruciate ligament in his right knee.

That injury cost him a place in the 1994 World Cup finals with Jack Charlton's side in America.

Now history has repeated itself and he will miss Sunday's qualifier against Iceland. An innocuous tackle in the match against Coventry at Roker Park seven weeks ago has cost Quinn again. The cruciate ligament in his left knee is severed, his season over.

A generation ago the first injury would have finished his career. Now, Quinn faces fresh surgery next week.

"I've beaten this injury once before and I will beat it again.

"The surgeons have told me to look at the start of next season as my come-back date.

"And that's exactly what I will do," said Quinn, from his new North East home.

"It is a blow, it is another low point in my career but I will not let it get me down.

"I've been through all this before and thought I would never have to face it again but now that is the reality and I have to get on with it.

"I'll have the operation probably on Wednesday and there begins the long haul back to fitness.

"At least I know what is ahead of me and what I will have to do to get through all this."

Quinn feared the worst after the Coventry match but for seven weeks medical opinion and the strength in his knee cast doubts on that judgement. Then came a training ground tackle on Monday.

Quinn revealed: "All the scans on the knee showed nothing more serious than slight cruciate damage, a possible tear on the cartilage and some damage to the bone in the knee joint. Doctors were convinced it wasn't serious.

"The scan didn't show it up and neither did the strength in my knee. I was able to go on seven-mile run runs without any problem whatsoever.

"That was all false, however. I had a doubt at the back of my own mind and it came true in training on Monday.

"I was fine in the warm-ups, I was fine in the training run but once I put my foot into a tackle the knee just went.

"All the scans did this time was produce the same result. I told the doctors I wasn't happy with that."

Quinn's suspicions made him enter a Wearside hospital for an orthoscope on his damaged knee.

He added: "As soon as I woke up the doctor told me I had been right. The cruciate ligament has snapped and I have no option now but to face surgery once again.

"It is a blow but life carries on. I fought this once and I will fight it again."

Meanwhile John Aldridge is hoping for a record-breaking cap at Lansdowne Road, on Sunday.

A goal behind, Aldridge wants to beat Frank Stapleton's Republic of Ireland scoring record of 20 goals.

But the Tranmere Rovers player-manager knows time is running out.

"A double against Iceland would be a dream come true, but I know that my international appearances are coming to a close.

"Records are important to me and I know that if I get the chance the fans will be behind me.

"I failed to score in my first 20 games for Ireland, but the fans knew we had to conform to a certain method under Jack Charlton and they never lost patience."

Aldridge, capped 69 times, has improved his chances by proving his fitness in two gruelling sessions this week.

He came on as a late sub against Macedonia and the crowd erupted.

"The fans have always been brilliant for me," he said, "and nothing has changed, given the opportunity, I will pull out all the stops."

And with Quinn and Keith O'Neill ruled out, the 38-year-old year old's chances of getting a game have improved.

Tony Cascarino will certainly start and that leaves David Kelly (Sunderland) and Alan Moore (Middlesbrough) his only rivals for the second striking spot.

It is highly unlikely that manager Mick McCarthy will give him a start, but Aldo looks odds on to come in as a sub.

And who knows his dreams may even come true.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Dervan, Cathal
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 8, 1996
Words:760
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