Football’s focus is fully on Muamba

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BOLTON Wanderers manager Owen Coyle has not ruled out the possibility that Fabrice Muamba might return to full fitness and even be able to play again as he continues to show signs of recovery.

After visiting his 23-year-old midfielder in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital following his heart attack, Coyle said: “We had a brief conversation, the contents of which are private.

“It’s a great sign. I must stress we are very early in this process and there is still a long way to go but it is really positive.”

Asked if he thought Muamba would ever play again, he added: “It is something which has happened before. Two things might help – he is such a fit young man and in the life that he has had, he has needed to fight every step of the way.”

Muamba collapsed on the pitch on Saturday as his team played Tottenham Hotspur in an FA Cup quarter-final. Bolton postponed a Premier League tie against Aston Villa last night and has yet to decide whether to play Blackburn as scheduled on Saturday.

Asked if it was time to turn his attention back to footballing matters yesterday, manager Coyle said: “Football pales into insignificance. At this moment in time, it is not something of great importance to me. We will probably have the group in training tomorrow but really our thoughts are with Fabrice and his family.”

Doctors revealed on Monday how the footballer had started to breathe independently. He was also able to recognise family members and respond to questions.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini yesterday called for bi-annual medical screenings for Premier League players, but Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, said the organisation had spent about £7m over the past 20 years on screening professional footballers for heart defects. Muamba had been screened four times.

“The truth is, even if you screened someone every three months, there may be some things that wouldn’t get picked up,” he added.