Steve's Delight

Steve Lomas is delighted that Ian Pearce made such a significant step on the road to recovery on Tuesday evening.

Ian came through 70 minutes of a reserve game against Arsenal to add to the practice game he played in at Chadwell Heath last week and is well on the way to a first team comeback against Middlesbrough in ten days' time.

"He is hopefully over his knee troubles, and he deserves a bit of luck. He has had such a bad run, it puts my worries into perspective," says Steve.

Like Ian, the club skipper has had a bad time with a knee injury - but Ian's problems go further back, and Steve says: "He has had some dark days as well, so having him back would be fantastic. I'm sure Glenn would say it would be like a new signing.

"It was a case of him encouraging me - he had been through it and I was bending his ear when I was recovering."

He reckons Ian is one of a dying breed of stoppers and explains: "He is a fantastic athlete, one of the best defenders at the club, good in the air, quick for such a big lad, built like an outhouse, and a pretty imposing guy.

"He is six foot odd, 14 and a half or 15 stone of pure muscle, and there aren't many big solid centre halves around at the minute.

"He can play a couple of positions and he fancied himself as a centre forward in his younger days - but I don't know whether he could pull that off now, as he is not as nimble as he used to be!"

Indeed, Steve holds him in such high regard that he feels, if circumstances had been different, Ian would have been preparing for an England international in Amsterdam right now, rather than recovering from a reserve game.

"I think if he hadn't had the two years of injuries that he has had, and he had continued progressing the way he was progressing, there is no reason why he couldn't have put himself in the frame with England because he is quick, strong, able enough on the deck, good in the air, and young," he insists.

"It is all ifs and buts, if you said that to Ian he would just say he is glad to be out and about - and playing."

With Sebastien Schemmel and Trevor Sinclair suspended for the Boro game, Ian's presence will certainly be welcomed.