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Knocking on 1997 Ford Escort

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I drove my 1997 ford escort to the store the other day it ran great on the way there but on the way back it started knocking really bad and had lost lots of power. It still starts right up every time I try but has a hard time idling and has little to no power. Could this be a timing belt issue? it sounds like the valves are knocking really bad , If you have any ideas please let me know it's a 2.0 4cyl engine
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