FC CLACTON stalwart Lee Clowsley is out for the season after suffering a recurrence of his Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury.

The problem has flared up for the third time in five months and the defender now concedes he needs surgery.

He was due to meet his surgeon earlier this week and hopes to have the operation as soon as possible.

Clowsley first suffered the injury in a match against Brantham Athletic at Easter.

After making a recovery, he then suffered a recurrence during pre-season, late in a reserve game against Colne Athletic.

Now the injury has reared its ugly head again - this time while teaching PE at Clacton Coastal Academy.

"It was during a lesson at school," said the 25-year-old, the twin brother of Seasiders frontman Jake.

"We were doing rugby. There was no contact but my knee gave way and I hit the floor like I'd been shot.

"The kids all thought I was joking.

"They didn't really know how to deal with it and wanted to carry on playing.

"I was lying on the floor and they were saying 'can't we just play around you, sir?'

"It was quite funny really, in terms of their reaction, but now I know surgery is the only option.

"I've put it off as long as I can.

"If it was just about football, I'd probably take my time and see what happens but I need to be fit and active for my job as a PE teacher.

"If it affects my career and ability to teach properly, I know I've got no choice.

"It's fine when I'm in the classroom but when it comes to sport, I'm a very practical teacher and like to demonstrate techniques and skills.

"You can't do that standing on the sidelines.

"I'd rather be involved and so surgery is the only operation.

"I can carry on and try and rehab but who's to say it won't happen again?

"I don't want to give up but my body is telling me I need to look after myself.

"I'd be delaying the inevitable and would rather get it done, while I'm still relatively young.

"My mind is made up and hopefully I can get booked in for the op soon and be back in time for next pre-season, fit enough to start playing again. That will be my target.

"It's a major injury and maybe, with hindsight, I should have given myself more time to recover."

Clowsley is a familiar face at the Austin Arena, having made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old during Steve Pitt's tenure.

He has become a trusted, tenacious defender at the club - either at centre-half or as one of the full-backs - and would undoubtedly be a key member of manager Tom Austin's side.

"I don't have any luck with injuries," he said.

"I somehow managed to tear two ligaments in my ankle while celebrating a goal last season.

"I've also had a knee problem, a hernia, broken my cheekbone and broken my nose twice.

"I've always had knocks. That's part and parcel of playing this level of football but to have two major injuries in the same season is frustrating.

"This ACL injury is particularly serious, though, and it needs sorting.

"I could have had surgery the first time I did it but wanted to see if I was fit enough to make a full recovery.

"I don't regret that but for it to happen three times in five months tells me I need the operation.

"It's not an easy situation and you wonder whether you'll be good enough to play at this level again.

"There's always that doubt as to whether I'll come back and be the same player.

"Things like that are on my mind.

"I'm not even at my prime yet and want to play at this level for as long as possible.

"I don't want to think about retiring or having to step down in standard.

"I don't want to have to contemplate a plan B.

"I believe I'm good enough and still feel a part of it.

"I want to be part of this team for a few years yet and didn't think I'd have to have this thought process at this age.

"I didn't expect to be thinking along these lines for another ten years."

While recovering, Clowsley, who returned to the club last year after a couple of seasons at Wivenhoe Town, plans to stay as involved as possible within the Seasiders camp.

"I want to stay active and involved in some capacity," he said.

"Hopefully the team can have another successful year and hopefully I can play some part. Maybe not on the pitch but off it."