Naylor is back from the brink

RICHARD Naylor's football career was on the line when he underwent an operation this year on a slipped disc in his neck.Ipswich Town's longest serving player, who was this week named club captain, came through okay, and he today vowed to make the most of his 'reprieve'.

Elvin King

RICHARD Naylor's football career was on the line when he underwent an operation this year on a slipped disc in his neck.

Ipswich Town's longest serving player, who was this week named club captain, came through okay, and he today vowed to make the most of his 'reprieve'.

“I feel as fit as I have in my career,” said the Blues longest serving player. “I can't wait a second to get back into the thick of the action. I am desperate to play.”

Naylor came through his first 90 minutes on Thursday when he played at the Fulham training ground in a behind-closed-doors 0-0 draw.

Unlikely to feature in the starting line-up today against Preston at Portman Road (kick-off 3pm), Naylor has a chance of selection for Tuesday's home Carling Cup match against Leyton Orient.

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“The specialist said that the operation might not be a success,” added Naylor. “He warned me about the dangers, and not just football dangers as my general well-being was on the line as well as my life after football.

“But he is really pleased with the outcome - if a little surprised.

“He has been wary and been holding me back - as I have been raring to go for some while. His time scale was for a return in September.”

This is not the first time that Naylor's career has been in doubt.

The 31-year-old has undergone six operations, and a long standing knee problem seven years ago was solved by having an insert placed inside his boot.

“After 18 months effectively out of the game with a toe and the neck problem I have a lot of time to make up,” added Naylor.

“And in the next five years I aim to do that.”

And talking of his new role as club captain - with Gareth McAuley team captain - Naylor said: “I am proud to be asked.

“I have always had a professional approach and will hopefully be able to give a good example to young players.

“I can act as a bridge between the players and the manager - and vice versa.”

And talking of his decision to appoint Naylor as club captain, Magilton said: “Richard commands respect in the dressing room and I am delighted for him.

“He will definitely come into consideration for a start on Tuesday, and he will have a part to play this season. After 18 months away it will be like having a new player - and someone we know can play at this level.”

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