'He's a top, top player': Portsmouth boss toasts injury boost and potential December return for ex-Manchester United, Fulham and Luton man
He was the summer signing whose eye-catching instant impact saw him championed by some as an early player of the season contender.
Ryan Tunnicliffe’s golden August noticeably saw him involved in all Pompey’s four goals, including netting himself.
Then came the lull – then the injury.
Now the 28-year-old’s pencilled in for a return to action this month, marking a return to fitness from a hamstring injury sustained at the end of October.
In Tunnicliffe’s absence, the Blues have resurrected their season, with Joe Morrell, Louis Thompson, Shaun Williams and Miguel Azeez battling it out for central midfield spots.
Yet Danny Cowley is buoyed by the anticipated comeback of a ‘top, top player’ towards the end of this month.
The Blues head told The News: ‘Ryan’s still got to have another injection which helps the rehabilitation speed up.
‘He is making good progress so hopefully not too long. It is weeks rather than months.
‘It will be so important for us to get him back fit and available, hopefully this month.
‘For Ryan, it happened against Bolton at home six weeks ago, so it hasn’t been that long – but it feels much longer to me.
‘The medical team will give you guidance and direction, yet bodies heal at different rates and different speeds, players heal at different speeds. Their job is to try to accelerate the process.
‘Ryan is a top player, a top, top player, and hopefully he will come back fresh physically and mentality.
‘You bring him and Clark (Robertson) back into the group and we are significantly better in a heartbeat.’
Tunnicliffe arrived from Luton in June, signifying Cowley’s fourth signing since appointed at Fratton Park permanently.
The former Manchester United apprentice subsequently enjoyed an outstanding start to the campaign, with a goal and three assists in the opening four fixtures.
The strike against Shrewsbury would prove to be the matchwinner in an encounter which would send the Blues to the top of League One.
Yet his role would alter, asked to perform higher up the pitch, following Joe Morrell’s arrival from Bristol City.
Then he was forced off in the first half of October’s 1-0 victory over Bolton.
Cowley added: ‘Ryan damaged the semimembranosus in his hamstring.
‘Normally it’s the biceps femoris which players tear, that’s the powerhouse one. You are much less likely to get the injury Ryan had.
‘But he’s coming along well, which is very positive, as he’s a top player.’
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