Shumi to make shock return

JIM Magilton has today welcomed the shock return of Velice Sumulikoski for Ipswich Town.

Derek Davis

JIM Magilton has today welcomed the shock return of Velice Sumulikoski for Ipswich Town.

The Blues boss was thrilled that the Macedonian midfielder came through a training session after being given an all-clear from a specialist and confirmed he is line to play against Preston on Saturday.

Magilton said: “Our medical team have gauged the opinion of one of the top specialists around and he is happy for Shumi to play on, which is great news for us and especially for the lad.

“He trained fully on Thursday and as long as there are no further problems in training, he will be in the frame for the Preston game.”

Sumulikoski, who celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday, was originally ruled out for three months, meaning he would miss the rest of the season, after it was discovered he had a partially torn artery in his leg.

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But after seeking a second opinion Sumulikoski has been told it will not get any worse if he plays on and he will be available for the Preston and Hull matches, and any consequent play-off games, after all. He will have any necessary surgery in the close season.

Sumulikoski said: “The specialist in London was very good and gave me the news that I wanted to hear.

“I was disappointed to miss last week and it looked like I would need an operation but the specialist has said everything is healing well and that I can carry on playing.

“It has been a good week for me. It was my birthday yesterday and I picked up the keys to my new house in Ipswich. Now I can carry on playing football again as well and maybe help the team reach the Premier League.

“It will be difficult, for sure, but if we can win at Preston on Saturday then maybe we have a chance.”

Town physio Matt Byard is happy with the second opinion and for the midfielder, who watched the Wolves games with the travelling Town supporters.

Byard said: “The early indication was that surgery would be needed. But we took Shumi to see a London specialist who carried out a thorough examination and says that the healing process in his shin is already well underway.

“The specialist is one of the top vascular surgeons in the country and has a team working under him, one of which is a consultant for Chelsea. He is happy for Shumi to carry on playing and obviously that's great news for the player and the club.

“The specialist explained in great detail the extent of the injury and the recovery process and Shumi was very happy in the way the surgeon carried out his investigations.

“The problem came to light because he was complaining of coldness in his foot in the last 20 minutes or so of games and it's obviously a circulation issue. It's likely he will continue to experience symptoms for weeks, even months but he's clear to play and came through a training session on Thursday without any problems.”

Shefki Kuqi also came through training yesterday as he recovers from a hamstring injury that has plagued him since he arrived on loan from Crystal Palace last month, and is in contention to make the 16 to play at Deepdale on Saturday.

Kuqi will probably travel to Preston but with Player of the Year Jon Walters, joint top-scorer Pablo Counago, Danny Haynes and possibly even Jordan Rhodes ahead of him, the best he can hope for is a place on the bench.

Magilton said: “Shefki Kuqi also trained on Thursday without any reaction. We will have another look at him on Friday and if he fit and well, he will also be in consideration for the weekend.”

With Preston down to the bare bones in terms of defenders the Blues will want to exploit all weaknesses with pace and power up front, and a half-fit Kuqi would only be detrimental to Town.

Sean St Ledger and Billy Jones are definitely out for the Lilywhites with Alan Irvine forced to bring in youngster Michael Hart at right-back, while Neal Trotman will partner Youl Mawene at centre-half.

Although Preston no longer have anything to play for after a draw at Plymouth last week ensured their survival in the Championship, while ending the Pilgrims' play-off hopes, North End could end Town's hopes today. Next week they will have a further say at the top end of the Championship when they take on high-flying Bristol City.

Irvine has been able to add to his strike power with on-loan West Brom striker Craig Beattie returning from the Hawthorns after recovering earlier than expected from injury.

Ipswich Town Under-16s entertain Manchester United under-16s at Portman Road tonight with a 7.30pm kick-off.