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Bolton buoyed as O'Brien back in starting side U21 Clifford to get Blues run Ipswich hit by Delaney injury

OWEN Coyle is delighted to see Irish international Joey O'Brien make his long-awaited comeback from injury with Bolton Wanderers.

O'Brien has been out of action for almost two years -- his last game for Bolton was back in October 2008 -- due to serious knee injuries, but the Dubliner has been working hard on his fitness and he played for Bolton in a 2-0 win over Charleston Battery in a pre-season tour of the USA.

"In matches like this you look at the big plus points and one of those was that Joey O'Brien and Sean Davis got 45 minutes after what they have been through. I thought both were great and I told them not to get frustrated if they made any mistakes because they had been out for so long," said former Burnley boss Coyle.

U21 Clifford to get Blues run

CARLO Ancelotti has given Ireland U21 cap Conor Clifford hope of making the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge this season as the Dubliner impressed for the Blues in a pre-season friendly win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

A Chelsea side which included Petr Cech, Michael Essien and Jon Obi Mikel won 2-0 against Palace and Clifford got a 30-minute cameo as Ancelotti gave a runout to some of the Blues' young stars.

"I think three, four or five players can be with us in the squad next season. We have a lot of young players ready to play in our team," he said.

Ipswich hit by Delaney injury

IRELAND international Damien Delaney has suffered a cruel blow as he will miss the first three months of the season with Ipswich Town due to an injury picked up in training.

"It's a serious injury and he's a very lucky boy," said Town boss Roy Keane. "He was lucky our medical care got him to hospital quickly and they operated straight away and then he had more surgery and we believe everything went well.

"Damien will probably be out for about three months. It's a big blow for us and a very serious injury," added Keane.

Meanwhile Keane has returned to his former club Sunderland for another player as he's signed Ireland U19 cap Conor Hourihane.