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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Simon Royce Injury Update - Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times
Injured Royce faces D-Day

SIMON Royce will be forced to undergo surgery if he fails to meet his make-or-break deadline of returning to training by Friday.

The QPR goalkeeper, who has been sidelined with a groin problem since April, has set himself a cut-off date of September 1 to prove his fitness or face an operation.

Royce aggravated the injury in the summer - ironically, during a fitness programme he had devised himself - and will make a firm decision on his future later this week.

He told the Times: "I sat down with the physio [Prav Mathema] and decided to give it until September 1 to get myself right.

"I'd started doing some fitness work and that went fine for two or three days, so things were looking quite good. Then I did a session with Tony Roberts and I felt a reaction.

"If I keep getting that I'm going to have to see the surgeon who operated on me a few years ago, when I was at Leicester, and go back under the knife.

"It'll be a case of going in, having the scar tissue trimmed and accepting I'll be out for probably another six weeks. This has been very frustrating for me, a complete nightmare."

Until the beginning of February, Royce's career at Loftus Road seemed to be anything but a nightmare - a string of excellent performances in goal had made him a strong candidate for the club's Player of the Year award.

Then a back injury ruled him out of what proved to be Ian Holloway's last match in charge at Rangers and Gary Waddock promptly enlisted the experienced Paul Jones as cover.

And the outstanding form of Jones meant that, through no fault of his own, Royce was unable to regain his place even before the groin tear ended his season.

"Everything was going so well that, at the back of my mind was always this kind of feeling that it was almost going too well," admitted the former Southend, Leicester and Charlton goalkeeper.

"But this has happened to me before - I'd just got into the first team at Charlton, played eight games in a row and equalled the club record for clean sheets, then ruptured my knee ligaments.

"So it's not the first time I felt like I'd missed the boat. Fortunately I'm a strong kind of character and I wasn't going to react by throwing in the towel - I want to get this fixed and then I want my shirt back."

Whether or not he manages to dislodge Jones at some stage this season, the 34-year-old is keen to show Waddock and the Rangers board that he is worthy of a new contract when his current deal expires next summer.

"I'd like to think I don't actually need to get in the team to show what I can do," said Royce. "But the fitness side is a concern and I'm not getting any younger.

"If I'm injured for half the season and haven't played much football, the club might feel they need to get someone a bit younger. At least if I've played some reserve games they might think differently.

"I'm very happy at QPR - we've got a bright young manager and I want to see the club move forward.

"It's one last shot for me to win promotion and get back to the Premier League"

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