BOLTON midfielder Fabrice Muamba could be back playing football within six months, according to a leading heart expert.
Muamba was discharged from the London Chest Hospital on Monday, almost a month to the day after he was rushed there having suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at White Hart Lane during Wanderers' FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham.
Dr Richard Cooke, a consultant cardiologist at London Bridge Hospital, said: "It depends entirely on the degree of recovery he has made already, but I understand he has made a surprisingly good recovery and all being well, I would not be surprised if he was back playing football in six months."
It took 78 minutes for the former England Under-21 international's heart to start beating again, but his recovery since then has been remarkable.
It emerged within two days of the incident that Muamba was breathing independently, recognising family members and responding to questions and just over a fortnight later, Bolton boss Owen Coyle confirmed the player had been walking around the intensive care unit he was staying in.
The news that he had been discharged was accompanied by a picture of Muamba standing, smiling and shaking hands with two of the doctors who had been involved in his care.
Cooke said: "It would seem highly likely that he would have had a defibrillator put in.
"There are some footballers who do play with them and have had a similar history, so as long as he makes a full neurological recovery, from a heart perspective there is no reason why he couldn't resume his professional football career.
"There is always concern that he might develop injury to the brain, but as long as the resuscitation was adequate, then you would hope he would make a full recovery, in which case you would anticipate he should be able to resume playing football."
The cup tie between Spurs and Bolton was called off following Muamba's collapse and rescheduled for March 27, with the Londoners winning 3-1. The clubs auctioned the shirts that were worn in that game, raising £22,000 for three charities and the London Chest Hospital.