CRYSTAL PALACE DEFENDER Paddy McCarthy admits he feared for his career during a nightmare 18-month injury spell.
The Dubliner, who had been Palace’s captain until this setback, suffered from persistent groin and calf problems.
Speaking to 98fm’s Now That’s What I Call Sport with Johnny Lyons, he recalled his recurring injury problems.
“I’d been managing it for just over a year, needing painkillers to get through games.
“I had one final injection in pre-season. It took its toll on my body. At the early stages, we didn’t know what was going on, and nobody was really giving us an answer. So at the start, it was a real worry that I’d never get back playing football again.
“I’d had the injection on two previous occasions and it all went well. My body kind of rejected the third one and I got a really nasty infection that knocked me for six.”
The setback was particularly galling for McCarthy, given that it occurred just after an impressive season in which he was an ever-present in the Palace side.
“It was frustrating, as I’d done all the work in pre-season and had a good season before — I’d played 50 odd games. But you live and learn and I won’t be going near any of those injections again.
“Nothing seemed to be really working for me, everything from coughing to sneezing left me in pain.”
Fortunately, having tried several alternative solutions, Delaney decided to get in touch with Ernest Schilders, a reputed Belgian doctor whose past patients had included Steven Gerrard.
“He put me on antibiotics for a week and after that, he recommended that I have an operation, so I have a lot to thank him for.”
Yet even after Schilders’ help, the road to recovery was a long one, as McCarthy broke down in training on multiple occasions, before eventually returning for their recent FA Cup tie with Wigan.
He has since gone on to make his Premier League debut against Hull, coming on as a substitute, but he’s yet to start a game in the league this season.
“The next fight for me is to get back in the team, and that will be just as tough as the fight I’ve had in the last 18 months,” he admits.
Palace. meanwhile, made a number of signings during the January transfer window, including a centre-back, Scott Dann, who will provide further competition for McCarthy.
Although despite the extra pressure that Dann’s arrival brings, the 30-year-old says he is relishing the challenge.
“I wasn’t surprised with the gaffer bringing in a centre-half — I spoke to him about it. The club have backed me unbelievably over the last 18 months. Even getting in the 25-man squad is a great achievement for me.
“I knew they were going to bring in another centre-half, because realistically, the gaffer couldn’t rely on me being fit having been out for so long. It’s four centre-halfs, which is what most Premier League clubs will have, and there’s competition for places all over the squad.”