Roy eases off search with Ben on mend

IPSWICH Town manager Roy Keane today eased off his quest for a left-sided defender with confirmation that Ben Thatcher will be fit for the start of the season on August 8.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town manager Roy Keane today eased off his quest for a left-sided defender with confirmation that Ben Thatcher will be fit for the start of the season on August 8.

The 33-year-old experienced campaigner suffered serious medial knee ligament damage in the 3-2 home victory over Norwich City in the Coca-Cola Championship on April 19.

He is unlikely to be ready to join in fully when pre-season training starts on Thursday, July 2, but is progressing well and should be in contention for a place at Coventry City on the opening day of the 2009/10 campaign.


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Thatcher, who made 23 appearances last season, is currently swimming and cycling and set to step up to the next level of his recovery next week.

He will be two weeks behind his team-mates when they return and may struggle to make the mid-July two-game trip to Ireland when Town play Cork and Waterford.

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But he should still have time to get in two or three games prior to the trip to the Ricoh Arena.

Thatcher suffered his injury when putting in a block tackle on Canaries midfielder Lee Croft and his specialist is happy with his progress.

Luciano Civelli, who suffered a much more serious knee injury against Burnley last March, is also making encouraging progress and has been given the go-ahead to move on to the next stage of his recovery. The Argentinean's extensive knee ligament damage included a ruptured cruciate and was suffered in the home draw against Burnley in March.

He travelled to London this week to see Andy Williams, the surgeon who operated on him.

Town physio Matt Byard said: “The muscles are strengthening around the knee joint and the specialist is delighted with the progress made.

“Luca has been given the green light to step up his rehabilitation in what will be a crucial time for him over the next four to six weeks.

“He has a great deal of strengthening and balance work to do before he can start to jog, which we hope to see him doing in August if he continues to progress.

“The first 12 weeks following surgery of the sort that Luca's had is often very slow and a frustrating time but he has dealt with it well and reached all the short-term goals set out for him.”

Civelli is not expected to return to football until early in 2010 but Byard added: “If Luca carries on as he is, we will get a good result at the end of it.”

Despite reports to the contrary, Ipswich are not believed to have any representation at the European Under-21 Championships that are currently taking place. They may well have reserved tickets in advance as a precautionary measure, but with Keane around the club and head of player development and scouting Bryan Klug not in Sweden it is understood that these have not been taken up.

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