Belfast Telegraph

Fabrice Muamba back on his feet, says Bolton manager Owen Coyle

By Phil Medlicott

Bolton boss Owen Coyle has confirmed Fabrice Muamba has been walking around in hospital as the Wanderers midfielder continues his remarkable recovery following his on-field collapse last month.

Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest in the first half of the Trotters' FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham on March 17, with the game subsequently being abandoned.

The former England Under-21 international, who turns 24 tomorrow, received treatment on the pitch before being carried off on a stretcher and rushed to the London Chest Hospital.

It has emerged that it took 78 minutes for his heart to start working on its own again, but Muamba has made incredible progress since then and last Friday a picture of him sitting up in his hospital bed and smiling was posted on Twitter.

Asked this morning for an update on the player, Coyle said: "He has done some short periods of walking down the corridor he is in as part of the unit, staying in intensive care.

"He is taking steps, talking and has that big smile which we love to see, so he is certainly progressing the right way."

He added: "My chairman Phil Gartside was there yesterday with our club doctor Jonathan Tobin, and our club chaplain Phil Mason will be there today to continue the support from the football club.

"A couple of players have been sending him messages and we are keeping in touch. It has been great to see that smile and he continues to get better.

"We have to stress that he still has a long way to go, but the improvement has been remarkable and long may that continue."

Coyle also had news on Muamba's fellow midfield men Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-yong, who have both been long-term absentees due to injury.

Holden (knee) is back in England after spending some of his rehabilitation time in his native United States, but Coyle today stressed the 26-year-old is not expected to make a return to action with the Bolton first team until next season.

However, the manager is optimistic that Wanderers' South Korea winger Lee, working his way back to fitness after breaking his leg last summer, may yet feature before the end of the current campaign.

"We are hoping that Stuart will be available for the first day of pre-season training, ready to make that impact that he already has again next year," Coyle said.

"Lee Chung-yong continues to get better - he has done some light training on the grass on his own.

"My hope would be - and he needs continued improvement for this - that he can join in my training with the group in a couple of weeks' time.

"Then, if that is the case, we would need a couple of reserve games and I'd be hopeful that he might be able to be involved before the end of the season."

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