West Bromwich Albion’s Ronnie Wallwork will recover from surgery and play football again following an incident in which he was stabbed seven times, according to the player’s agent.
Although Wallwork’s representative, Neil Sillett, yesterday described the midfielder’s condition as ‘worrying’ he also expressed his optimism his client would return to the game.
The 29-year-old, who is on loan at Barnsley, is still in a serious condition in hospital recovering from wounds to his hand, stomach and back, after being attacked outside a Manchester nghtclub last week but Sillett has backed his man.
"He's still in a lot of pain and not in a great condition at the moment, so it's still a bit worrying," Sillett said.
"Knowing the character that Ronnie is, I would say that yes he will play football again. The surgeons have done a great job and given him every chance of playing."
Whether that is at Albion or not is a moot point. Before the incident, Wallwork’s prospects at The Hawthorns looked increasingly bleak after being dropped from the first team by manager Tony Mowbray and being sent to pursue his career at Oakwell.
Meanwhile although Portsmouth goalkeeper Dean Kiely has emerged as a possible target for Albion when the transfer window opens in January, the club last night distanced themselves from a move for the former Republic of Ireland international.
Kiely seems certain to quit Fratton Park next month after losing his place to David James despite the heroics which last season helped keep the club in the Premiership. His form since joining Luton Town on loan has been good.
But even though Mowbray’s counterpart at Portsmouth, Harry Redknapp, is unlikely to stop Kiely leaving, Albion are unlikely to be spending too much time looking for a goalkeeper.
Russell Hoult is the current incumbent while Mowbray can also call on Luke Steele, although he has circulated Pascal Zuberbuhler’s details with a view to the Swiss international agreeing a loan deal elsewhere.
Zuberbuhler has not played since the end of October when a nervy display allowed Queens Park Rangers to steal a 3-3 draw from a game Albion dominated.
One player whose future with Albion looks good is Neil Clement, who returned from an eight-month injury nightmare in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Derby County.
The defender came on as a late substitute and stated his confidence that Albion would be able to mount a promotion challenge despite the fact that last weekend’s victory was just their second in nine games.
"Promotion is achievable," said Clement. "We have a lot more quality now, in that we can score more goals, but we were tougher the first and second times we went up.
"Back then, when we went one goal up, we had an inner belief we'd win and keep a clean sheet. This time, we believe we can go out and outscore the opposition.
"But if we can also get that little edge we had in the first two promotions, that should see us soar up the league."