Dimitar Berbatov and Mahamadou Diarra return to lift Fulham


Gordon Tynan
Friday 26 October 2012 15:24
Mahamadou Diarra’s recovery is way ahead of schedule
Mahamadou Diarra’s recovery is way ahead of schedule

Dimitar Berbatov will return to the Fulham starting line-up against Aston Villa today and could be joined by Mahamadou Diarra after what Martin Jol described as a "miracle" recovery.

It has been an amazing turnaround for Diarra as only last month the Fulham manager revealed fears the midfielder could be ruled out for the majority of the season.

Diarra damaged his left knee on his return from international exile with Mali and required surgery, which could have meant five months out had it shown a cruciate ligament problem. Fortunately for Fulham it was the best case scenario but, even still, Jol has been surprised by the speed of recovery.

"Diarra is back," the Fulham manager said. "He is almost a miracle, you know? I thought it would be a bit longer, but they always said it could be three or four weeks or possibly longer. He needed an operation and, having said that, he is still coming back. He will be involved."

Jol can also call upon Berbatov and Mladen Petric against Villa. The pair have recovered from their respective injuries and, aside from long-term absentee Simon Davies, it leaves the Dutchman with fitness concerns only over Bryan Ruiz.

Ninth-placed Fulham will be looking to continue their sturdy start to the season today, where Steve Sidwell is likely to line up against his former club Villa just months after he considered quitting football due to ongoing injury problems.

"Steve Sidwell was very good when he started with Danny Murphy in midfield," Jol said. "He then had his problem with his hernia and came back, then needed an operation again – but he was probably not as fit as he was before. But from pre-season when he came back, I think he is the old Steve Sidwell so he is an important member of our squad."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in