Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
JAMAICA INTERNATIONAL Damani Ralph is recuperating in the United States after undergoing a third consecutive knee operation six weeks ago in a desperate attempt to iron out the career hampering injury.
Ralph, now 27, has been sidelined for the past 2 1/2 years after picking up the injury while playing for Russian club Rubin Kazan early in 2005. Two prior surgeries on the joint, the first, which took place in Germany in February of 2006 and then another in Switzerland in the same year have both failed to alleviate the problem. However, the forward remains optimistic or rather hopeful that the latest surgery, which was a Auto-logous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) will do the trick. The ACI is a method used to replace damaged cartilage, in an initial procedure cells are taken from the knee, grow in a lab and once millions of cells have been generated they are then implanted into the damaged area in a second surgical procedure.
"Well it's still early but the indications are that the surgery was definitely a success and right now I'm doing some rehab, it coming along OK," Ralph said.
I'm looking at about nine months on the sidelines, so I hope to be playing by early next year," he said. The player, who saw his contract with the Russian club expire in December of last year has now severed ties with the outfit after opting not to resign. Ralph signed for Rubin Kazan from US MLS team Chicago Fire in March of 2005, however an injury plagued two years saw him able to score just two goals in 25 appearances. Still, the forward does not believe the move was a bad one just to have been a bit unlucky.
"I wouldn't consider it a bad move, you can get injured anywhere. You would have hoped that injury-wise it would have gone better, then we might have been saying it was the best possible (move)," he said.
Once battling for a regular spot in Jamaica's Reggae Boyz squad, the striker last represented the national team in a 5-0 loss to Australia in October of 2005. Ralph has netted once for the national team, that goal coming against Panama in the 2004 World Cup qualifying campaign.
"My international career is not over. There has been no infor-mation from any doctor saying I have to quit so I wouldn't say anything is over yet," he said.
"However the truth is right now I'm not focusing on any of those things, I just want to get healthy again and that's it."