Blues boss won’t rush Webber

Danny Webber made a cameo appearance against Reading on Saturday
Danny Webber made a cameo appearance against Reading on Saturday
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Pompey’s new number nine was finally unleashed, prompting a rapturous reception.

In the surrounds of the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, Danny Webber was back.

After an absence stretching a year and a week, the striker was donning Blues colours once again.

Inheriting the shirt formerly owned by Frederic Piquionne, with just three weeks of full training under his belt, Webber climbed off the bench in the 85th minute for a surprise return to action.

It was an emotional occasion for the 29-year-old, having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury at Spurs on March 27, 2010.

His comeback is viewed by Steve Cotterill more as a small step than a giant leap in terms of Webber’s progress.

Regardless, it was a moment to lift the spirits of any Pompey fan, with a touching rendition of ‘There’s only one Danny Webber’ to accompany it.

With seven matches remaining this season, the former Sheffield United forward has the opportunity to rack up many more minutes on the pitch.

But Cotterill remains wary about too much, too soon for the likeable Mancunian.

He said: ‘It was great to see Danny back.

‘I wanted to keep it as a surprise and didn’t want to publicise it too much and put even more pressure on him.

‘He is nowhere near ready but I just wanted to give him a few minutes at the end to have a run and try to introduce him back into it gently.

‘He is at the stage Hermann Hreidarsson was when I first brought him back.

‘We will see how he progresses over the next few weeks.

‘When he came back in the other week to training for a few days I didn’t want any contact with him.

‘We needed to let him find his feet because he would have been a bit nervy and jittery on his first day back in. It’s natural, it’s what happens.

‘But I think over a period of time, the longer he trains the better it will become. Someone caught him at the back end of his first week and gave him a bit of a clip.

‘You see him get up and make sure he is okay but slowly I think all of that carefulness with Danny from his team-mates will evaporate and he will be back to normal.

‘He is very enthusiastic, which you would expect.

‘I would say he is certainly sharper at the beginning of training than at the end, so there is obviously a culture shock to his body at the moment because he hasn’t really done anything for nearly 12 months.

‘Danny will not be rushed, though.

‘I know peo-ple would like to see him involved all the time but we have to take it day by day and see how he is.

‘He has done great so far, worked his socks off and he has come this far.

‘But we don’t want anything else to happen to him.’

That brief Reading run out was another obstacle hurdled for former Manchester United trainee Webber.

Encouragingly, there was no sign of an adverse reaction to that five-minute cameo.

Pompey now have seven matches over a gruelling 29-day period ahead of them.

Cotterill will need every player from his small squad at his disposal to be able to cope.

It means Webber could yet feature many more times in the first team as he continues his comeback from serious injury.

Despite handling him with kid gloves, Cotterill certainly thinks Webber can play a part.

He added: ‘I’d like to get three or four games out of Danny.

‘It’s not ideal because there is not a lot of time left of the season but Danny has got a career ahead of him.

‘It is not just about this season for him.

‘It is very important that now he doesn’t have any setbacks along the way.

‘It’s amazing to think what he will be like with a month’s training under his belt.

‘I would love to see where Danny is at that stage because things can change.’