Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland defender Craig Cathcart in heart scare

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland defender Craig Cathcart has been shocked to discover that he has a worrying heart condition.

The 23-year was diagnosed with an enlarged heart after complaining of palpitations.

A cardiac specialist said the Blackpool player could continue to train with the club but his condition will have to be continually monitored.

Blackpool will take no risks with the player and say they will now wait for more information on Cathcart’s condition.

Cathcart, capped nine times by Northern Ireland, has already been officially listed as “doubtful” for the crucial Championship play-off semi-final first leg against Birmingham City tomorrow night.

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway explained: “Craig has been having a racing heart over the past couple of weeks.

“We instantly got him checked and he’s got an enlarged heart.”

Holloway added: “What’s been happening with Craig is very similar to |a panic attack where your heart is racing.

“Until we find out exactly what’s wrong, we can't use him.

“He has been sent home and will wear a heart monitor.”

Heart scares involving professional footballers are becoming all-too-common.

Striker Nouha Dicko, who is currently on loan from Wigan, was recently diagnosed with a similar condition to Cathcart.

And the case of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed during a match at Tottenham in March after suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch, made headlines across the world.

It also heightened calls for players to be screened for heart problems more regularly.

Last month in Italy, 25-year-old Livorno midfielder Pierluigi Morosini died after collapsing during a Serie B game against Pescara.

Belfast-born Cathcart is in his second season with Blackpool, having joined from Manchester United in August 2010 for an undisclosed fee.

He has featured in 33 first team games this season.

“When Craig told our physio about the problems he was having, we instantly pulled him out of training,” said Holloway.

“He was feeling that his heart was jumping out of his chest and going far too fast. And that has happened to him a couple of times.”

He added: “The specialist doesn’t think this could lead to a Fabrice Muamba situation, but he has been sent home and will wear a monitor.

“After he has been on that a few days and data has been collected, the specialist will have a clearer idea about what’s happening.

“After the Muamba incident, nobody is going to be taking any chances.”

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