Murray happy to be back

By Derek DavisBLUES starlet Antonio Murray turned to Kieron Dyer and Richard Naylor for inspiration when shin splints threatened to wreck his career even before it had really got going.

By Derek Davis

BLUES starlet Antonio Murray turned to Kieron Dyer and Richard Naylor for inspiration when shin splints threatened to wreck his career even before it had really got going.

The 19-year-old Ipswich Town midfielder got through his second game in four days after an eight-month injury lay-off last night as the Blues were held to a goalless draw at Danish club Randers.

Murray, a Cambridge lad whose dad was a professional footballer, admitted there were times during the lengthy period where he needed two operations when he thought he might never play again.

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But terrific medical treatment, hard work and determination, coupled with hours of encouragement from physio Dave Williams and fellow sufferer Naylor helped him pull through.

After playing against the newly-promoted Randers side, days after the 2-1 win over Peterborough, Murray told the EADT: "It was good to get a couple of starts again which shows the Gaffer still has faith in me.

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"It has been scary coming back. The first game back I was a bit rusty on the ball and in this game the pitch was not the best but things will come.

"The worst thing for a footballer is being out injured and it was a nightmare for me watching my team-mates playing every week and not being able to join them."

Murray is not the first sportsman to be afflicted with shin splints and he has used other people's experiences to keep him going.

He said: "When Kieron was here he had it as well so I spoke to people about that, Willo (Dave Williams) was telling me how he got through it and what to do, so I have tried to follow in his footsteps.

"Bam Bam also had it and he has been great, telling me to keep going and saying there is not always much you can do so you have to keep your chin up."

For a teenager whose future is in doubt that is not always easy.

Murray recalls: "Contracts are so scarce these days it is worrying. There were days when it really played on my mind, especially after the second operation but it is good to be back playing now."

After making his debut at Derby County in the last game of the season before last, Murray has struggled to get back to a position where, along with others from the exciting crop of youngsters, he is challenging the established stars for a place.

"There are places available so it is down to me to push on and challenge the older players."

He has the backing of Blues boss Joe Royle who picked him out as one of the few pluses from last night's game.

He said: "One of the few positives was a clean sheet and the young kid looked good. After coming back from such a long injury Antonio did really well.

"It was a horrible injury for him and it was an awful pitch.

"The game was not a spectacle by any means but we have come through with no fresh injuries and our fitness levels look good."

On the negative side was the failure of Dean Bowditch to make a mark while Pablo Counago still looks well below par.

Royle said: "The only little worry at the moment is that if Darren Bent is not on the pitch then we don't look dangerous. The subs coming on made a difference, Richard Naylor, Jim Magilton and Kevin Horlock, all did particularly well.

"We knew that the team that started was a little weak in some areas but I wanted to give those players who had 90 minutes on Saturday a rest.

"We will be stronger against Aalborg on Friday but again at this stage of pre-season the main thing is fitness."

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