Cherries: Jalal set for early return
STAR stopper Shwan Jalal could be ready to hand Cherries boss Eddie Howe a timely festive boost by hitting the comeback trail earlier than anticipated. Jalal was expected to be sidelined until the start of next year after fracturing his eye socket during Cherries' 2-2 draw at Leyton Orient last month. The 27-year-old, who sustained the sickening injury when he collided with team-mate Marvin Bartley, went under the knife to repair the damage. But although he was initially set to be ruled out for between six to eight weeks, Jalal has |confounded the medics by returning in little more than a month. Jalal has spent the past few days being put through his paces by Cherries goalkeeping coach Neil Moss and returned |to full training earlier this |week. In his absence, Jon Stewart, 22, has performed admirably despite being restricted by the recent cold snap to just three league and FA Cup appearances. Speaking to the Daily Echo last night, Cherries boss Howe said: Shwan has made good progress. He has been training on a non-contact basis so far and doing a lot of handling and kicking work with Mossy. He hasn't joined in a session properly yet but is very close. We hope to have him joining in fully some time this week. Depending on how he feels, he could be available for the festive period. But it was a nasty injury so we would have to make sure he had fully recovered before he was ready to return to the first team. Howe added: Shwan would have to prove his fitness first. I think Jon has done very well in the three games he has had and I have been really pleased with the progress he has made. I think Jon has stood up really well to the test. I'm really pleased with him and it would be great to have Shwan back as well. Hopefully, it will be good news on both fronts. ¢ Cherries' League One fixture at Bristol Rovers has been rearranged for Tuesday, February 22 (7.45pm). The League One clash was postponed on December 4 due to a frozen pitch and Cherries will now visit the Memorial Stadium in midweek.
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