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Bolton boss hail’s ‘fighter’ Fabrice Muamba as decision expected on Saturday’s match

BOLTON Wanderers are expected to decide today whether the club will play Blackburn in the Premier League on Saturday as footballer Fabrice Muamba took his first steps to recovery.

The 23-year-old footballer remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match on Saturday.

His manager Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle said he had spoken directly to the midfielder, whom he described as a "fighter", as he continues to show signs of recovery.

Coyle praised the treatment the former England Under-21 international had received but warned there was still a long way to go.

He said: "I have been in to see him myself, as has his family, and we have had a brief conversation, the contents of which are private.

"It's a great sign. I must stress we are very early in this process and there is still a long way to go but it is really positive.

"I want to go on record to thank everybody, especially the supporters of Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur for their reaction.

"The hospital has been truly remarkable in the work that they have done."

Coyle's comments come after doctors said Muamba had started to breathe independently. He was also able to recognise family members and respond to questions.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini yesterday called for bi-annual medical screenings for Premier League players as he voiced concerns that not enough is being done to protect them.

Mancini said: "I was really worried on Sunday.

"Today I have read he has improved and I am very happy for him and his family.

"But if you want to know my opinion, it is that, here in England, the best championship in the world, everything is fantastic.

"But we need to improve the medical side for the players.

"We need to screen the players often, maybe two times a year, and they have to be more accurate because they don't do this."

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has already announced a review of medical procedures, even though the high level of care Muamba received after collapsing at Tottenham's White Hart Lane owed much to the fallout from the fractured skull suffered by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech five and a half years ago.