Earle quits after stomach injury

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The Independent Football

The Wimbledon midfielder Robbie Earle has decided to end his playing career on the advice of a specialist after failing to recover from a serious stomach injury.

The Wimbledon midfielder Robbie Earle has decided to end his playing career on the advice of a specialist after failing to recover from a serious stomach injury.

Earle, who joined the Dons in 1991 for £900,000 from Port Vale, played more than 650 games during a career which included scoring Jamaica's first goal in a World Cup finals after they qualified for France 98.

His final game proved to be a reserve-team fixture against Watford where he received a kick in the stomach which led to a potentially life-threatening pancreatic problem. "It would be more cliche than truth to say I have had one of the most difficult decisions of my life to make over the past few weeks," said the 35-year-old Earle, who will remain at the club as reserve-team manager. "But when you are told by the country's top pancreatic specialist that it would be unrealistic to anticipate a fully active return to professional football as a player, the decision is made for you."

Earle, made an MBE for his services to football, wrote in his newspaper column: "Making my decision has in one way been a relief, for I now have to move on and concentrate on the next stage of my life.

"I take the opportunity to thank all the medical staff who helped me through the injury and all those at Wimbledon who gave me so much support.

"It is, however, the players' opinions I value most. At the end of last week I returned to my usual spot in the first-team dressing-room to find an anonymous letter from 'the boys'.

"It read: 'Seven days to make your mind up which side of the fence are you on: the players or the staff'. So in answer to their and anyone else's question, I state for the record: The Duke has now officially left the building."

The Aberdeen defender Russell Anderson has been ruled out for the rest of the season with knee ligament damage. The Scotland Under-21 international had appeared to be on his way back to fitness after injury in the Scottish Cup final in May. But, after incurring a further injury in training last week, a scan has revealed the true extent of the damage. "News like this is hard to take for the boy as he has already worked hard to get fit a couple of times," said the club's manager, Ebbe Skovdahl. "We have lost a lot of experienced players through injury this season but we can't go round looking for excuses."

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