Crewe Alexandra's Steve Phillips given all-clear after cancer scare
What appeared to be a routine knee injury turned into something far more sinister for Crewe keeper Steve Phillips. Peter Smith reports ...
STEVE Phillips has revealed a cancer scare which forced him to abandon his early-season preparations and his relief at being given the all-clear.
The popular goalkeeper, an ever present in Crewe’s promotion-winning side last term, has been out of action since the start of July after suffering pain in his left knee.
Treatment for suspected tendonitis showed up an apparently tumourous lump, leaving the 34-year-old with an anxious two-month wait while a biopsy was arranged and then reviewed.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
The player-coach was told last week that the problem was benign and fortunately in the right place, on the outside of the joint, to be removed.
The West Country boy is delighted to be healthy and close to a return to training with hope he could be back challenging for a first-team place by the middle of this month.
“It’s important for people to know why it took so long to sort out my problem and now I’m happy to explain,” he said.
“I went for a scan on the tip of my kneecap for a tendonitis problem. There was real pain when I was walking up and down stairs and when my foot was landing after kicking a ball.
“I went to get a scan just to make sure the tendon was all intact, and it was, but they found a lump around the fat pad so I went for another scan and then an X-ray examination.
“Then I went to see a specialist and they found an abnormality in the knee which turned out to be this lump and they decided the best thing for me to do was to see a tumour specialist.
“I took another two-and-a-half weeks until I could get into see the tumour specialist at Oswestry and they mentioned the word ‘cancer’, which was a bit frightening. It was already five weeks down the line before I’d even seen anyone.
“I was told they were 99 per cent sure it was nothing that was going to do any damage to me or put my life in danger, which was a big relief, but there was that one per cent at the back of my mind thinking it could happen to me.
“I’d never considered it before, but then you realise it can happen to anyone. I had to wait two weeks for a biopsy because the normal knee surgeon wouldn’t touch the lump until it was absolutely conclusive it was not sinister.
“It was a long wait for the results and I had to wait an extra third week while the doctor reviewed my biopsy. In the end I got a letter giving me the all-clear, informing me it was a benign tumour.
“There are two types of benign tumour, one that grows in the joint and one that grows on the outside, and luckily for me mine was the one on the outside. I would have been in trouble if it was on the inside.”
Phillips, who joined Crewe from Bristol Rovers in 2009, hopes to be back in full training by a week on Monday, but admits that might be an optimistic target.
In the meantime, he is happy to help current first-team goalkeeper Alan Martin make sure the Alex defence is as tight as possible.
Phillips said: “I have to say, first and foremost, that Steve Davis and the club have been superb with me. It was a difficult time, but they supported me and I can’t thank them enough.
“My goalkeeping coaching also provided me with a distraction and now I can’t wait to get the gloves on and try to win my place back.
Martin kept a clean sheet in his competitive debut, a 5-0 Capital One Cup hammering of Hartlepool United, but was on the wrong end of the a five-goal spree last week at Brentford.
The 23-year-old was also at fault for West Ham’s second goal in a 2-0 defeat at Upton Park on Tuesday, when he otherwise played well.
Phillips added: “I was very impressed with Alan against Hartlepool, and what happened at Brentford is something every goalkeeper has to go through at some stage.
“The West Ham goal I think will help him develop. I’ve been telling him his scoop technique needs to change and hopefully being caught out by it will ensure it doesn’t happen again.”