John Ruddy nearing Norwich return after surgery
England goalkeeper John Ruddy could be set for his first Norwich appearance in five months against Reading this weekend after coming through another 90 minutes for the under-21s.
The 26-year-old has not featured for the Canaries since the draw at Everton on November 24 after needing surgery on a torn muscle in his thigh. Ruddy, though, stepped up his rehabilitation after a second full match in the Barclays Under-21 Development League defeat on Monday night at Bolton, and impressed with a clean sheet in the 1-0 victory.
Norwich senior professional development coach Scott Marshall said on the club's official website, www.canaries.co.uk: "John was on form and made a couple of good stops. He is getting there definitely. I am sure he will be pleased with the match action he got and it is another one on the road to getting back to full fitness."
Should all go well this week, then Ruddy is likely to be in goal for Norwich's crucial Barclays Premier League game against bottom club Reading at Carrow Road - where three points would go a long way to securing top-flight football once again.
The likely return of Ruddy, who was part of the Euro 2012 squad only to suffer a broken finger when training with England, will be a welcome boost for Norwich manager Chris Hughton as he looks to get his side over the safety line.
The Canaries were just five minutes away from a famous win at Arsenal on Saturday, before a controversial penalty sparked a late rally as the hosts eventually ran out 3-1 winners.
Results elsewhere over the weekend left Norwich - who have recorded just one victory in 2013 but lost only three of the last 10 league games - still just four points above 18th-placed Wigan, who now hold two matches in hand after reaching the FA Cup final.
However, with key homes games against fellow strugglers Reading and Aston Villa set to come, as well as the visit of West Brom on May 12, Hughton remains confident his side can close in on the fabled 40-point mark.
Winger Anthony Pilkington, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, could come back into contention against the Royals, as could Irish playmaker Wes Hoolahan, who was rested at the Emirates Stadium.
Hughton said: "After not playing for a month, I had decided I wouldn't start with him (Pilkington) and you then have a decision to make whether you use him from the bench. With Wes, I just decided to make a change for this one. He has played a lot of games, Wes and I just felt it was the right time to give him a rest."
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