Surgery puts Kyle's career under threat

Hearts striker pins hopes on one final hip operation to try to put horrendous 12 months behind him

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The Independent Football

The Hearts striker Kevin Kyle is to undergo further surgery at the end of this month to try to save his career after a year-long absence with a hip injury.

The 30-year-old last played in the Scottish Cup fourth-round tie with St Johnstone just over a year ago, but hopes an operation next week will finally solve his persistent hip complaint. He said yesterday: "I've overcome some things in my life but this has been one of the hardest.

"Nobody's said I'll have to retire – I just don't believe for a minute I need to finish football. I've got a chance and, hopefully, the option of more surgery will work and give me everything I need to push on again.

"Without question, this is what I've been looking for. Hopefully, it's just an impingement, where two bones are rubbing and they can be shaved off and smoothed.

"I never envisaged it would take this long. I'd just like to get back playing, even if it's for one season."

Following consultations with numerous specialists, Kyle has had athree-dimensional picture of his hip joint produced, showing signs of various issues, which started while at Sunderland earlier in his career.

"If I don't recover from this surgery, I'll know the situation, I'll know what's wrong with me and I'll know why I can't play football," he added. "I'll be able to take that and understand it, even though I don't want to finish at 30 and worry about the future."

Kyle's Hearts contract expires at the end of the current campaign, two years after he signed from Kilmarnock. However, the former Scotland striker hopes to be given an opportunity to stay at Tynecastle.

The surgery "will mean I'll hardly feature again for Hearts this season," he admitted, "but if I can get myself fit and be able to play professional football, then I'm quite prepared to come and play for Hearts for whatever.

"I know the situation I'm in. I don't expect to demand wages that I get now. I just would like to play football. If Hearts turned around and made an offer, I'd be more than happy.

"The first six months I had here at Hearts were immense and this last year has been totally horrendous for me and my family. It's put a big stress on us.

"I felt I was destined to be at this club. The fans took to me and I took to them. I felt like I did enough in that time to merit some of the praise that I got.

"Hopefully, in three months I'll be able to kick a ball and once that's possible I can start moving forward again."

The celtic striker Gary Hooper has sought to dampen speculation linking him with a move away from the club by reiterating his commitment to the Scottish Premier League leaders.

The 23-year-old former Scunthorpe player's old manager Nigel Adkins is rumoured to be interested in taking him to Southampton. But Hooper said: "I'm very happy here. I'm back playing now and scored at the weekend. It was good to be back in the team. I don't want to go anywhere."

The Rangers manager, Ally McCoist, has described himself as "open-minded" about the prospect of the trialists Jorge Claros and Enar Jaager joining the club. McCoist yesterday welcomed the Estonia right-back Jaager and Honduras midfielder Claros to Rangers' Murray Park training base as he considers January transfer window moves.

The manager said: "Both Jaager and Claros have international pedigree. Jaager has 80-odd caps for Estonia and played the vast majority of their Euro qualifiers, including two against Ireland. Claros is the same, so both are very keen to come in and, likewise, we are keen for them to join the set-up so we can get a look at them in training and in a closed-door match as well.

"We are very open-minded about these things. It is important they can express themselves and, if we like what we see and they enjoy the club, maybe we can take it a step further."

Jaager is a free agent after spending last season with the Norwegian side Aalesund. "I have had big moments playing for Estonia but, in terms of my club career, joining Rangers would be my biggest step," the 27-year-old said.

Mervan Celik is set to give McCoist an answer over a possible move to Ibrox before the end of this week. The 21-year-old is available on a free transfer after his contract at the Gothenburg club GAIS expired.

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