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By ESPN Staff
Apr 11, 2006

Upson eyes return in Sunday's derby with Villa

Birmingham defender Matthew Upson could be pushing for a recall in Sunday's derby at Aston Villa after starting on the comeback trail following groin and pelvic injuries.

The former Arsenal player completed an hour of a 2-0 reserves win over Wolves following his return to training in the latter part of last week.

Upson has been out of first team action since the 2-0 home reversal by the Gunners in early February and he has to date missed 12 matches.

His presence has been sorely missed although the Martin Taylor and Kenny Cunningham partnership have halted the flood of goals recently by letting in one in the last three matches.

But Upson's return for the derby would be a massive lift for Blues from a match they cannot afford to lose in their battle to stay in the Barclays Premiership.

Blues manager Steve Bruce said: 'Matthew has been one of those big, big players for us over the last three or four years and to have him back available would be a massive boost.

'He only started training on Thursday with the main squad after being out for two months. You are always a bit wary when people have had a long lay-off but but he is fit and healthy.'

Bruce received another tonic with midfielder Mehdi Nafti completing 70 minutes against Wolves - his second reserve outing since returning to action after suffering ruptured cruciate ligaments in his right knee during a pre-season friendly.

But Bruce is unlikely to involve the Tunisian international at first team level this season unless there is a major midfield injury crisis.

Bruce said: 'He is playing in the reserves and you can tell the kid has had a serious injury even though he has been training for four or five weeks.

'We are not going to see the best of him until possibly after pre-season. I know he is doing his utmost to go to the World Cup. But we have learnt the rehabilitation and time after serious injuries is vital.

'We have got to be realistic. You never know, but it would mean us falling to bits for me to throw him in and risk him at this late stage of the season.'