Noel Whelan is back in first team reckoning for Coventry City after playing the full game
in Fridays friendly with St Johnstone.
The 24-year-old travelled to the match, which was a testimonial for Roddy Grant,
expecting to just sample around 20 minutes of action, but boss Gordon Strachan allowed him
to complete the fixture.
It is the first time the former Leeds ace has kicked a ball competitively since
injuring an ankle against Manchester United way back in August, and will be a huge relief
to the club.
The ligament injury was preventing the player from taking part in any training sessions
and it was feared that only an operation would cure the problem.
However, Whelan seems to have suffered no ill reaction from the match and will now
intensify his training to throw himself into the equation for Citys next fixture
against arch-rivals Aston Villa.
If fully fit Whelan should figure in the match as England new boy Stephen Froggatt will
have to miss out through suspension.
That should allow Strachan to drop Moustapha Hadji back into his preferred midfield
position and restore Whelan to a striking berth alongside £6 million wonder-kid Robbie
Whelan has played just four full matches this season, and City fans have only seen him
link up with Irish international Keane on one occasion the 2-0 victory over Derby
which was Keanes debut.
The Republic of Ireland striker has rejoined his City team-mates earlier than expected
after being suspended from his countrys second-leg of the Euro 2000 play-offs.
The 19-year-old was booked in a previous fixture and also cautioned for dissent in the
Republic 1-1 draw with Turkey on Saturday.
He has not travelled to Istanbul with his international team-mates and should be back
at Coventrys training camp tomorrow.