MICHAEL Duberry could make a surprise return for Oxford United in the next fortnight if scans reveal his neck injury has healed.
The 37-year-old went to hospital yesterday and it is believed the results, which are the final major hurdle in the defender’s recovery, could be confirmed today.
It would represent a rapid recovery for Duberry, who only went under the knife to correct a prolapsed disc in August.
The former Chelsea man returned to training several weeks ago, but has been unable to head the ball while awaiting to receive the all-clear.
United boss Chris Wilder has his fingers crossed for good news.
“The scan decides his future and we’re all confident and hopeful that it will be positive.,” he said.
“It would give Michael a big lift, just as it would me and the club because he’s popular and has been a big player for us.
“He could be two weeks away from playing, which is fantastic news.
“He’s been doing all the work – he took one to the head (on Wednesday) in a small-sided game, that was a little bit of a tester, but he felt all right with that.”
It would be a remarkable turnaround for Duberry, who had wondered in the summer whether he would have to retire.
The defender considered hanging up his boots to avoid surgery.
In August he told the Oxford Mail: “It scares me, someone opening up my neck, especially with the spine there and all the talk of (the risks of) paralysis.”
The decision was made for him, when he realised without the operation the symptoms would never go away. His condition was deteriorating – he was unable to do a press-up as he suffered from pins and needles down one arm.
Even the most optimistic estimates put Duberry’s return at after Christmas, so Wilder admitted it would be huge boost to potentially have him back this month.
“It would be unbelievable,” he said.
“When we spoke to him at the start of pre-season, when he had lost feeling in his hand, I think it was very much a 20/80 (chance of playing again).
“I’m sure there’s still loads of football left in Dubes – for next year as well.”