Luca on course for return

LUCIANO Civelli is on course to be back in the Ipswich Town first team by the turn of the year.

Elvin King

LUCIANO Civelli is on course to be back in the Ipswich Town first team by the turn of the year.

Fears the knee injuries sustained by the 22-year-old Arge-ntinean would see him miss the whole of next season have been allayed.

The Blues medical staff have been confident the left-sided midfielder would be back in action at the start of 2010 after rupturing anterior cruciate knee ligaments in the draw against Burnley in March as well as suffering extensive damage to his lateral collateral ligaments.

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This has been confirmed, with Civelli now free of crutches and with full extension of his knee. He should get clearance next month to begin the long road of rehabilitation.

He underwent a delicate operation at the start of April, carried out by leading knee specialist Andy Williams.

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He impressed in his eight appearances after being signed from Atletic Banfield in January and is expected to feature heavily in new manager Roy Keane's plans.

“The operation went well and we have been very pleased with his progress since,” said Town physio Matt Byard.

“Luca came off his crutches after six weeks and had the splint removed as well. He has full extension in his knee, which is excellent and has met all the goals we have set him.

“He's back home in Argentina and will be returning early next month and will see a specialist then. He will assess the stability of the joint and if all is fine then we will look at Luca doing some swimming and cycle work. He won't be jogging before August though and we don't expect him to be back playing football again until the new year.”

Civelli's brother Renato has been linked with a move from Marseille to Premier League Blackburn where Rovers manager Sam Allardyce plans to team him up with Gael Givet, also arrived from Marseille.

Reports suggest released Town defender Dan Harding is to sign a permanent contract with Reading, where he was on loan at the end of the season.

Harding was Jim Magilton's second signing after he took over Town in the summer of 2006, joining from Leeds in a swap deal that took Ian Westlake to Elland Road with the Blues receiving an additional �450,000. Midfielder Jai Reason is close to agreeing a deal to stay with Blue Square Premier Cambridge United.

Reason, who has been on loan at the Abbey since February, said: “Cambridge have offered me a good deal. Hopefully it will be sorted out in the next couple of weeks.”

Ipswich winger Reggie Lambe and goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin have received international calls. Lambe will be with a Bermuda Under-23 camp next month.

Meanwhile, McLoughlin is in the Irish Under-19 squad for their UEFA Championship elite qualifying phase matches this summer.

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