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Clock ticking on Carl's contract

Jan 31 2006

By Toby Porter


CARL Asaba has been feeling fitter now than he has for almost three years - and he knows he needs to be.

The clock is ticking on his contract, which runs out in the summer, and he must be back to his best in the weeks ahead if he is to earn a new Millwall deal.

He has gone to the extreme length of having eight injections in his spine - four epidurals - to solve the problem, and hopes it is now behind him.

He had a set-back on Friday, with a niggle in training, but has been told it happened because he was trying to get back too soon.

"I am going to have to break myself back in slowly," he said. "Hopefully I still have time to make an impact. I need to do something to prove I am worth keeping around.

"I am not worrying about a deal - I have to concentrate on getting back playing first. I have to earn a contract by scoring goals and showing how much I want to be a part of this club. At the moment it is hard to look people in the eye because I have done nothing so far. I only signed a one-year deal because I am not the kind of person to just take the money and do nothing.

"Even while injured, I will do as much as I can with weights and on the bikes - but I was not able to with this injury for a long time.

"I have only been out seven weeks but for the five weeks before that I was playing just one game, then getting injured, then playing and getting injured again," he said. "I had no fitness at all. It has been horrific.

"I have had so many niggly injuries. I pulled my hamstring on my debut, then it was my calf."

To make matters worse, doctors could not find anything wrong with him. "I had a scan after straining my calf against Birmingham and nothing was found," he said. "I pulled a muscle in the last kick of the 1-0 defeat at Coventry. Then a scan on my back showed a problem. I needed to have the epidurals because otherwise I would just have kept breaking down."

When most of us were enjoying the armchair lifestyle over Christmas, Asaba had a long period of no exercise for all the wrong reasons.

"I was not allowed to do anything - not even sit-ups or press-ups," he said. "I could hardly eat either - if I had I would have blown up because of not exercising."

Once the back was sorted, the hamstring and calf problems seemed to be sorted, too.

"This is now the fittest I have felt for three years," he said. "I am still sluggish, but in my body - my jumping, my leg strength and things like that - it is the best I have felt since before I joined Stoke in 2003.

"I am very grateful to all the physios and the team doctor Des Thompson for helping me so much.

"From having problems everywhere, I now haven't got a pain in the world. It's been really brilliant.

"I want to be strong again - because, for the love of God, I don't want to undergo eight injections again."

Asaba is not deterred by the talk of Millwall signing new strikers to compete with.

"I am hoping we get two or three in," he said. "Then it's up to me, Kevin Braniff and Marvin Williams to prove we deserve a place.

"The best thing would be if I could score the goals that kept us up.

"Maybe then, I might think about asking about a new contract."


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