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Snooker: Higgins back at 'the dentist' with low-key return

John Higgins is set to return from his six-month ban today when he competes in the Euro Players Tour Championship in Hamm, Germany. The three-time world champion faces Joe Jogia in the first round as he makes a tentative comeback.

The 35-year-old was cleared of match-fixing in September but fined £75,000 after admitting breaching rules about betting following an investigation into allegations of frame-throwing made by the News of the World.

The Scot's suspension began when the allegations surfaced in May, but now he is poised to resume competition for the first time since the world championship where he suffered a shock defeat to Steve Davis in the second round.

It was in the following week that the fateful meeting involving Higgins, his manager Pat Mooney and undercover reporters from the newspaper took place in a hotel room in Kiev with the allegations published on the first day of the world championship final.

Earlier this week, Higgins admitted he was anxious as to what kind of reception he would receive from his fellow professionals in Germany, describing the prospect as "like going to the dentist" and acknowledged the stigma may always live with him.

Six-time world champion Davis believes it will take time for Higgins to be fully accepted by his rivals, although reigning world champion Neil Robertson said last month he would be welcoming him back. It will also be a prelude to Higgins' return to action in Great Britain when he competes at the UK Championship in Telford next month.

Should Higgins prevail against Jogia, the world No 60, he will face the winner of the match between Dave Harold and Danny Douane.