Birmingham City's co-owners have hailed David Dunn's return from injury, telling him that yesterday's training session was 'the first day of the rest of his life.'
The #5.5 million signing has been bedevilled by injuries since he arrived at St Andrew?s and has not kicked a ball in anger since Boxing Day after repeatedly pulling up with a hamstring injury.
It was eventually diagnosed as a back problem and Dunn underwent a spinal fusion operation in the summer following consultation with a neuro-spinal expert
His s specialist has finally handed him the green light to resume his Birmingham career, news that left both David Gold and David Sullivan celebrating.
Gold was particularly delighted for Dunn and hoped this wouldn?t signal another false dawn after suffering so much mental anguish.
?David?s first training session was the first day of the rest of his life,? said Gold.
?I am urging him to put what has happened in the past out of his mind, as I can?t think of another player who is capable of making such an impact.
?I remember seeing his face when he pulled up with each hamstring injury and he looked absolutely distraught, but I can?t describe how excited I am by his return.
?I am delighted for the fans, the team, but most importantly of all I am delighted for David Dunn.
? He has worked so hard and it will be fantastic to see him back in a Birmingham shirt again.? Sullivan agreed with Gold and admitted he was relieved to see the one-time record signing finally being awarded a clean bill of health.
?The return of David is something we are all excited about,? added Sullivan. ?Hopefully, he will play really well again for us in the future and this is the best news we have had for a long time.?
However, it would be unfair to heap too much pressure on Dunn?s shoulders at this stage of his comeback while his return could be hastened by the news that Stephen Clemence will be absent for two weeks with a hamstring tear sustained in Monday night?s reserve game with Wigan.
Nevertheless, while Dunn is arguably the biggest match-winner on Birmingham?s books, a safety-first policy is the order of the day, according to Gold.
?While we are all very excited by David?s return, we need to temper it with the fact that he hasn?t played for nine months,? warned Gold.
?I have no doubt he will go through a strict regime before he joins in with the first-team squad and I am assuming he will play a few reserve games.
?It is like unveiling a new #5 million signing, but without all the fanfare that goes alongside it. We have shown great faith in him and he was ? and is ? an England-class player. Providing he gets a clear run with injuries, then I have no doubt he can add to his solitary cap.
?Every supporter will be delighted that David is returning ? and I include myself in that.?
However, typically of Birmingham this season, as one problem is solved, so another rears its ugly head.
Dunn?s imminent return is offset by the news that both Emile Heskey and Mario Melchiot are likely to be unavailable for Saturday?s clash at Portsmouth.
Heskey limped out of last Saturday?s game against Charlton with an ankle injury and while scans have proven no serious damage, he is still regarded as a major doubt for the weekend.
?Fortunately, Emile?s scans showed that he was okay,? said manager Steve Bruce. ?But we are unsure whether he?ll be fit for Saturday.?
Bruce also breathed a huge sigh of relief after Melchiot?s scan showed no serious damage to his knee, but he is considered a bigger doubt than Heskey.
With Mehdi Nafti and Clemence also confined to the rehabilitation room, it looks as though Bruce?s favoured starting XI will be put on the back burner for the foreseeable future.