England and Sussex's Matt Prior has admitted that his cricket career could be over as he continues to try and recover from an Achilles injury which has seen his forced absence from the game since July.
Prior has been undergoing treatment, which has included surgery, to try and cure a problem that prematurely curtailed his summer series against India in July.
Prior had regained his England place after being dropped last winter during a disastrous Australian Ashes tour defeat when Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow took his spot.
His early season form for Sussex, which also proved his fitness, helped him regain his England place but his Achilles injury flared up and is now casting serious doubt on his ability to regain his Sussex and England place.
Despite all the doom and gloom Prior believes that he is on the road to full fitness once again but knows it is still a long journey ahead and although he is targeting a comeback in pre-season training in February he knows the true test of his recovery will be when the new season begins in April.
Speaking to theargus.co.uk, Prior summed up the situation philosophically;
“I am ahead of schedule, which is great news, but nobody really knows for sure exactly when I will be ready to play again. It is easy for a consultant to say I will be able to keep wicket again but they are not fully aware what goes into it.
“You can do all the rehab work but until you spend four days in the field you don’t know how the body will react. What I do know is that I am going to give my body the best chance by working as hard as possible over the winter to get myself fit.
“If I can’t play for England again then I want to contribute at Sussex and help us get back to winning trophies. That is my goal and I am pretty determined to achieve that."
Prior though is realistic about his chances of returning to cricket and has already seemingly made plans for life after he retires by recently launching his own professional cycling team.
“ I don’t want to be pessimistic but I am realistic and I probably won’t know for sure until I start playing again.
I have got to stay positive but I have had to think about the possibility of not getting back to where I was. That would be disappointing as I haven’t achieved everything I set out to yet but I’ve also done some pretty cool things like win the Ashes three times.
“Ultimately if I have injured myself due to giving everything I possibly could to the team then I can’t be too upset.”
Prior has been an excellent servant to both Sussex and English cricket so let's hope that this injury does not curtail his career early as he still has much more to give the game whether at county or international level.