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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Birmingham extend Upson contract

Birmingham have formally exercised the two-year option on Matthew Upson's contract - and manager Steve Bruce is backing the defender to overcome the ruptured Achilles tendon which will sideline him for at least six months.

Upson, whose three-and-a-half-year deal was due to expire in June, is now contracted to the midlands club until the summer of 2008. He was due to undergo surgery today to repair the Achilles tendon.

Bruce believes it will be a year before Upson fully recovers from the setback suffered in the warm-up before Sunday's derby with Aston Villa.

But he is confident past injury experiences - Upson suffered a broken leg and damaged cruciate knee ligaments when at Arsenal - will help him come through his latest injury blow.

Bruce said: 'We have already exercised the two-year option on Matty's contract.

'He is going to be out for at least six months and, as we've learned with others, it will take him another six months after that before we see the `real' Matt Upson.

'But I am sure he will recover and it helps that he is a strong character and mentally tough. He's come back from breaking his leg and doing his cruciate knee ligaments before and he will come back again.

'He has been a special player for us and for three years his partnership with Kenny Cunningham was a key part in Blues establishing themselves in the Premiership.

'He came to us and got in the England squad and I've always regarded him as the best naturally left-sided central defender in the Premiership. He will come back from this.'

Upson's injury has effectively scuppered any chance of the player, who was 27 yesterday, being sold in the summer should Birmingham be relegated from the Premiership.

Liverpool have been constantly linked with Upson who would command a fee of at least £5million.

Blues held brief talks with Upson regarding a new deal during the early part of the season but those were quickly shelved.

Birmingham later confirmed Upson's operation had been a success.

The club revealed Upson had undergone successful surgery on his ruptured Achilles tendon at 9am this morning.

Upson was awake throughout the operation, which was carried out under local anaesthetic.

The player will be in a plaster cast for 14 days, before beginning a six-month rehabilitation process.