LuaLua will not rush return for goal-shy Portsmouth

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The Independent Football

The 24-year-old has not played in the Premiership since 17 September and Pompey have since dropped down the table and are just one place above the relegation zone. LuaLua remains their top scorer with just two goals but will not compete for a first-team place until he is confident of his return to full fitness.

"I'm going to take my time and make sure when I come back that I'm fully fit," he said. "I'm starting with some light jogging and I'll see how it goes. I don't want to rush anything. I saw the specialist at the weekend and he gave me the go-ahead to start light training which I'm happy about because I'm bored sitting at home. My blood levels are getting to be where they need to be and my liver condition is improving."

The Pompey manager, Alain Perrin, could have LuaLua back against Liverpool at Anfield on 19 November, but is also wary of rushing the player. "He has a lot of strength to build up and we cannot expect a quick return," Perrin said.

Meanwhile, Perrin is unsure why fans jeered midfielder Laurent Robert when he was replaced by Svetoslav Todorov five minutes from the end of Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Charlton at Fratton Park.

"You will have to ask them," he said. "I heard the boos but I wasn't sure whether that was because they thought he had a bad game or that he shouldn't be taken off."

Robert denied a rift with Perrin at Middlesbrough last week when he was taken off after less than an hour of the 1-1 draw and replaced by fellow Frenchman Gregory Vignal.

Robert added: "I've not come here just to stay up but to finish in the top ten. Alain does good work during the week and gives confidence to the players - the problem is with the players. It is down to the players who play. The game is in your hands."