Bolton yet to decide on Blackburn fixture


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The Independent Football

Bolton will decide tomorrow whether they will play Blackburn in the Premier League on Saturday.

Life has been on hold at the Reebok Stadium since Saturday evening, when midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest at Tottenham.

Medical staff at White Hart Lane and at the London Chest Hospital took two hours to get Muamba's heart working again, the 23-year-old has made huge improvements, to the point where he has been able to speak some words, in both French and English.

However, further recovery may be a slow process and life for a Premier League football club must at some stage get back to normal.

Members of Bolton's squad visited their team-mate today, along with their manager Owen Coyle, who has seen Muamba every day since his collapse.

But with training planned for tomorrow, Press Association Sport understands Coyle will return north with his players this evening and by the time he has assessed their mood, the Scot will be in a position to decide whether to confirm a fixture that could have huge implications for Bolton's chances of staying in the Premier League.

Although the belief is that Bolton are going to play, Coyle admitted earlier today that focusing on the match has been impossible.

"That's not something of great importance to me at this moment in time," said the Scot.

"In the course of today, as we hope and pray that Fabrice continues to improve, that's something we will have to look at.

"My thoughts are that we will have the group back in training tomorrow and we will look at it from then.

"The one concern we all have is for Fabrice only."

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore revealed his organisation was in contact with Bolton regarding the Blackburn fixture, adding: "We'll take it literally on a daily basis.

"Clearly by Sunday lunchtime, we knew the players weren't going to be fit to want to play tonight (against Aston Villa).

"We'll check the situation again today, check the situation again tomorrow, and we'll just see how things develop."

After their extensive update on Muamba's progress yesterday, the London Chest Hospital have been less forthcoming today.

"Fabrice Muamba has had a comfortable night in the intensive care unit at The London Chest Hospital, where the medical team is continuing to monitor his progress," read a statement issued this morning.

It means many questions about Muamba's long-term situation remain unanswered, not least whether he will ever play again.

The former Birmingham man remains in intensive care and "a period of quiet reflection" is due to take place at the Reebok this evening between 6.30pm and 9pm to allow fans to offer further prayers for Muamba.

"It's very early in the process and the doctors have stressed that, so we all know what's involved," Coyle told reporters outside the hospital.

"Fabrice still has a long way to go but it's encouraging signs and whilst that is the case it's really positive and we move forward from that point.

"I was fortunate to see him and had a brief conversation which will obviously remain between us.

"We have to understand it's early in his continued fight for improvement but we could never have envisaged the improvement Fabrice has made from Saturday. Muamba making such improvement in such a short period of time."

Asked if he was confident Muamba would make a full recovery, Coyle added: "That's something they (the doctors) have said has happened before.

"Every case is on its own merits, but we've said consistently the two things Fabrice has which can help him further is that he's such a fit young man and the life he's had, he has had to fight and earn every step of the way.

"Those two things I am sure will stand him in good stead."