Port Vale's Marc Richards 'will play through pain'
Port Vale captain Marc Richards will postpone an ankle operation for as long as they have a genuine chance of reaching the League Two play-offs.
"Having the surgery isn't in my mind," Richards told BBC Radio Stoke.
"I know it's something that I need to have eventually, but as long as we're in touching distance of the play-offs, that's what I'm fully focused on."
The 29-year-old striker netted his 10th goal of the season in a 1-0 win at Rotherham on Saturday.
The result ended Vale's four-match losing streak, moving Micky Adams' side to within four points of seventh-placed Oxford.
Vale are missing several experienced first-team players, including defenders Gareth Owen and Lee Collins, because of injury.
And Richards, who will miss the rest of the season if and when he has the operation, feels a responsibility to play through the pain while the squad are short on numbers.
"As long as the ankle isn't stopping me from playing, I feel like I need to be out there and want to be out there," said the former Barnsley striker, who has scored 69 goals in 184 appearances for the Valiants.
"It's ultimately up to the manager. If he thinks my performances still warrant the shirt, I'll want to play as long as possible.
"If he feels like I'm not pulling my weight, I'm sure he'll tell me, and maybe it's time to have the surgery done then."