Ex-Manchester United, Fulham and Luton man offers Portsmouth timely boost ahead of Oxford United trip amid Fratton Park midfield crisis

Ryan Tunnicliffe is back to answer Pompey’s midfield SOS.

Friday, 4th February 2022, 4:55 am

Although Danny Cowley is not yet putting a timeframe on the former Luton man’s crucial first-team return.

Tunnicliffe was in Blues training on Tuesday for his latest comeback from a hamstring injury.

The 29-year-old was initially struck down in October against Bolton, then suffered a recurrence last month following an outing at Cambridge United.

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But Tunnicliffe is edging back into consideration, according to Cowley.

The Blues’ head coach told The News: ‘We had a 20-man squad and 20 games to go, now we have a 19-man squad and 19 games to go.

‘I will only see the positives – and the positives for us is Ryan Tunnicliffe trained on Tuesday.

Ryan Tunniclife has returned to Pompey training this week, representing a timely boost following the sidelining of Shaun Williams. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages

‘It’s the first time he has trained and felt really free, like he had real trust in his hamstring since his injury.

‘He trained again on Thursday, which was a real positive, and we believe he is almost like a new signing for us.

‘Hopefully Ryan will be back pretty soon, we certainly need him, we are about to go into a three-game week.

‘We’re always aware of soft-tissue injuries. From watching him train, I can see he’s in a much more confident place than at the beginning of January, so that is really positive.

‘We haven’t had Ryan since Bolton in October, so we’re really pleased to have him back in the group, that’s for sure.’

Tunnicliffe came off the bench for 30 minutes in last month’s Papa John’s Trophy defeat at Cambridge.

His comeback was short lived, however, with the ex-Manchester United apprentice aggravating his hamstring problem.

And Cowley admits the Blues need to handle Tunnicliffe carefully this latest time around to prevent a repeat.

He added: ‘We obviously have some caution because we only have three midfielders. I would be lying to say we wouldn't have to consider that.

‘We must find a balance because we need Ryan back as quickly as we can, but at the same time can’t risk another set-back.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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