Norris poised for Boxing Day return

DAVID Norris gave Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane a pre-Christmas boost when he played for an hour in a specially arranged practice match yesterday.

Elvin King

DAVID Norris gave Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane a pre-Christmas boost when he played for an hour in a specially arranged practice match yesterday.

The 28-year-old midfielder had not kicked a ball in earnest since suffering knee ligament damage in the opening game of the season at Coventry in August.

But he will be in line for a first team recall over the festive period after coming through yesterday's game at the Blues' Playford Road training ground unscathed.

Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship match at Scunthorpe looks like coming too early for Norris, although there is a possibility he might travel with the Town party and a slim chance he could be on the bench.

But it is more likely the away match at Crystal Palace on December 26 and the home encounter with Queens Park Rangers two days later are more realistic targets for Norris.

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Both Grant Leadbitter and Jon Walters will have to sit out this weekend's match as they will be serving one-game bans for collecting five yellow cards.

But Keane, who values Norris highly and has been impressed by his attitude during his time on the sidelines, will not rush him back into action as he is a player who could have a big say in proceedings in the New Year.

There was further good news for Keane when defender Alex Bruce announced last night that he expects to be available for the Christmas period.

The 25-year-old defender has been out of action since the Sheffield Wednesday game on November 21 after suffering a tear in a groin muscle and he faces a stiff task to get back into the side with Gareth McAuley and Damien Delaney currently doing so well.

“I have started some physical work, and plan to step up later in the week,” said Bruce, who along with Stern John, Carlos Edwards and Luca Civelli handed out Christmas presents at Bergholt children's ward in Ipswich Hospital yesterday.

“Touch wood there will be no setbacks and I expect to be fit well in time to be considered for selection in the two holiday games.

“This injury was more severe than it first appeared, but I am well on the road to full recovery now.

“It's the worst injury severity-wise I have had in my career, but now I can look forward to getting back.”

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