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Blackpool striker forced to quit as club reach Premier League

Blackpool striker Stephen McPhee has been forced to retire due to a persistent knee problem. The 28 year old suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a reserve game against Manchester City in April 2009, and has struggled for fitness since.

He tried to make a comeback for the reserves earlier this year but has now conceded defeat after making 24 appearances for the club.

McPhee said: "I had appointments with surgeons and specialists and had second and third opinions, but eventually you realise there is one real course of action to take. Because of the surgery I've had, there is no longer anything in my knee to act as a shock absorber, so it is basically bone on bone."

He added: "That was leading to a bone defect and, if I'd have carried on playing, especially at this high level where the training and matches are tough, I would have had severe problems in the long term. Retirement was the only sensible option.

"I hadn't only suffered a cruciate injury but something called a bucket handle tear in my knee as well. I had to have an operation to sort that problem out, and then more surgery a month later on the cruciate itself."

McPhail watched his team-mates secure promotion to the Barclays Premier League via the play-off final on Saturday, and added: "That's why I was so emotional at Wembley, I knew it would be my last time with the lads as a player and I was just so delighted that they achieved what they did because I know how much they deserve it.

"The lads actually winning at Wembley - even though I played no actual part in it - is the highlight of my career.

"The gaffer (Ian Holloway) has been brilliant with me since he came here. Some managers don't really care about you when you're injured but he's kept me involved in everything.

"I'm very grateful to him and all the staff, particularly Steve Thompson and the physio Phil Horner, for the way they've been with me all season."

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