Football in brief: Pantsil makes timely return ahead of European semi-final

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The Independent Football

Fulham: Defender John Pantsil should make his first appearance in four months today when he returns from a knee injury to face Wolves.

The Ghana international has been sidelined since 28 December when he damaged his cruciate knee ligament during a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. He underwent surgery to cure the problem in January before returning to training three weeks ago.

The 28-year-old has featured in three reserve matches and strengthens Roy Hodgson's squad ahead of next Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg in Hamburg. Prior to his injury, the full-back had started 18 Premier League games. He will also hope to prove his fitness in time to represent his country at this summer's World Cup, having missed January's African Cup of Nations.

McLeish hopes Blues can find funds to sign Chucho permanently

Birmingham City: Manager Alex McLeish has said there will be no extension to striker Christian Benitez's loan spell next season, so the Ecuadorian will have to sign for the St Andrew's side or leave the club. McLeish praised the 23-year-old ahead of today's visit of Hull, despite his record of just three goals this season. "Chucho has done well for us," the manager said. "Maybe his lack of goals return is what people are questioning but he has made a big impact."

The club retain an option to keep the player permanently at the end of the season, but McLeish fears his parent club, Santos Laguna, may try to price them out of a move. "The agreement was that we buy Benitez in May and we'll make the decision then. We'll try to keep him, but it may come down to finances."

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