Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Viduka Surgery Fears Are Quashed; Striker Doesn't Need Operation

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Viduka Surgery Fears Are Quashed; Striker Doesn't Need Operation

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

MARK Viduka will return to Tyneside on Friday with some good news for Newcastle United.

The 33-year-old Australian has been back in his homeland to see a specialist about the Achilles injury which has troubled him throughout 2008. The prognosis on the former Leeds United and Celtic forward was an encouraging one, with Viduka told he will not need surgery on his heel.

That was expected to be the outcome of his trip but Viduka - who is described as being "virtually pain-free" - has been told instead to focus on strengthening the tendon. Magpies physio James Murphy, who accompanied Viduka on the trip, told an Australian newspaper: "Surgery is not considered necessary."

No comeback date has been named for Viduka, but the optimistic assessment suggests he may return ahead of the six months interim manager Joe Kinnear predicted for his recovery last week.

Viduka has not played for his club since the end of last season and his injury problems were a constant frustration to Kevin Keegan during his brief second spell as manager.

Along with the enduring frailty of his body, Viduka's international commitments have also caused angst to many a club manager. Given that he plays for a country on the other side of the globe, and who play World Cup qualifying matches against some extremely weak opponents, many would have preferred him to retire from the international game but Viduka is adamant he will represent the Socceroos again - though he will not jeopardise his United career to do so.

"Of course I want to play for Australia again - it's something that's never out of my mind," he said.

"But it's a step-by-step process and the first stage is to get back playing for my club again. I don't want to rush anything.

I've got to be 100% fit and 100% sure in my mind that my heel is strong enough. …

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