Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Clarets boss Coyle backs Duff for early comeback

Northern Ireland defender Michael Duff has been backed to play again this season as he overcomes a horrendous knee injury.

Burnley manager Owen Coyle expects the 28-year-old to be in the reckoning for a first-team place before the end of the campaign, with his rehabilitation process already under way.

Duff received some good news a couple of weeks ago when an internal examination of his knee revealed that the damage to his cruciate ligament, sustained at the end of September, wasn't as bad as first feared and that further surgery wasn't required.

He has already had an operation to repair other damage within the knee, to his lateral ligament and hamstring tendon, which were torn off the bone during a game with Crystal Palace in Deptember.

Almost three months down the line he is beginning the slow process of getting back to full fitness, which new Turf Moor boss Coyle believes will be in time to make a first appearance for his during the current campaign.

"Michael Duff is a lot better than we first expected and with the rub of the green I would expect him to be playing in a Burnley shirt long before the end of the season," said Coyle who took over from Steve Cotterill at the Clarets last month.

"I think we all recognise what a talented player Michael is and the more Burnley players available to wear the Burnley shirt there are, the better it is for the team."

Duff missed Northern Ireland's last three games after establishing himself in the defence under both Lawrie Sanchez and Nigel Worthington and in the back of his mind will be a possible return to the international fold in any friendly fixtures that come up towards the end of the season.

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