Oxford United keeper Ryan Clarke upbeat following foot op

12:06am Monday 9th June 2014

By David Pritchard

RYAN Clarke is positive over his rehabilitation from a foot operation this summer after overcoming far more serious surgery last year.

The 32-year-old will miss the first pre-season of his career after going under the knife to correct a problem with the big toe on his right foot.

While it is difficult to be precise with a return date, the lay-off could rule the goalkeeper out for the first month of the new Sky Bet League Two season.

But despite the bad news, Clarke, who last month became a dad for the first time with the birth of his son, Ralph, is staying optimistic after coming through a tougher situation.

Last January he required operations on both shoulders, in what is believed to be a first for a professional goalkeeper.

There were real concerns over whether United’s No 1 would ever be the same again.

But following a six-month recovery Clarke did not miss a minute of first-team action last season and was named player of the season by supporters and players.

The experience means the goalkeeper is looking on the bright side.

“If I can come back strongly from double shoulder surgery, this will be a breeze,” he said.

“I want to prolong my career here and it’s better to get it done now instead of later on.

“The main thing for me is to stay positive, although it’s a big disappointment to miss pre-season for the first time.

“It was the ideal time to get it done with the late start back to the season.

“In the long-term it would have gradually got worse and worse.”

The issue, relatively common for goalkeepers, was managed for the final months of last season.

The former Bristol Rovers trainee did not feel it affected his performances, with most of the pain coming after games.

United initially felt time off in the summer would be enough to solve the injury, but fortunately booked an appointment with a specialist just in case.

Clarke said: “We thought as soon as the season finished with a couple of weeks’ rest it would have settled down.

“But it got more tender walking round the house so we put in to see the specialist as soon as the season finished to cover ourselves.

“He wasn’t happy with it and they needed to shave a bit of bone and fuse it together.”

Meanwhile, former Oxford defender Harry Worley has joined Sky Bet League Two side Stevenage following his exit from Newport.

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