Bellamy back, duo to follow

Alan Curbishley is looking to a specially arranged game on Monday to get vital minutes for Julien Faubert and Bobby Zamora.

With Bellamy getting a second-half appearance in the 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic on Saturday after three months out with an abdominal problem, the manager is also close to having Faubert and Zamora in contention. Faubert has missed the last two fixtures with a calf strain picked up after the exertions of coming back last month from a six-month lay-off while Zamora has not figured since 28 August because of a knee injury.

Curbishley said: "We have got an arranged friendly against QPR on Monday. We are hopeful we will get that out of the way and that we are much further forward." The Wales captain, who has pulled out of the squad to play Norway this week, very nearly made an instant impact at the JJB Stadium eight minutes after coming on as 67th-minute substitute, just missing from a good position. "The little chance Bellamy had, he perhaps would have taken if he was 100 per cent right.

"I just want Bellamy and Faubert to get through this week and if Zamora can also do that, then he'll be that little bit nearer too," the manager continued, mindful that Birmingham City arrive at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday. That is where we are at the moment, I am hoping some fresh legs, some fresh minds will come back into the squad for the long run-in. Some of the players have been playing week in, week out without a break."

While Bellamy and also Nolberto Solano returned off the bench, both Matthew Etherington and Mark Noble made way, with each feeling the impact of the midweek 1-0 victory against Liverpool and a competitive encounter. "[Noble] ran 13km midweek which was phenomenal," said Curbishley. "He was on four bookings as well and he was shattered. Contrary to stories this week, Scotty Parker is about a month or six weeks away.

"Etherington has got a sore foot. I rested Luis Boa Morte because I wanted to go 4-4-2 and I thought Matty's more suited to that and low and behold he gets a knock straight away. It is a badly bruised foot but we think he will be OK. We have just got to get on with it. They have done fantastically well to put us in this position.

"We knew it was a big game. We knew that perhaps if we got the result we could push ourselves a bit more. We have to go back to Upton Park on Saturday and try and get the result. That is our fourth defeat in 17 games, so we have had a very consistent run, but for us to push into the top six we have got to pick some wins up. We have got to get some results in these next two games if we are to have a chance of doing that."