Upson may make Rovers return

Matthew Upson could be back in contention to face Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon while midfielders Lee Bowyer and Julien Faubert are also working back to fitness.

Upson had played every minute of every Barclays Premier League fixture this season until he had to come off in the match at Liverpool on 5 March with a calf problem. He then sat out the weekend trip to Tottenham Hotspur but Curbishley was upbeat when asked about his England defender's chances of a comeback in a settled squad at the Boleyn Ground. "Matty Upson may be back," he said. "We'll find that out over the next couple of days but apart from that there's not much change.


"Bowyer's training - but he's been out since the Birmingham game [on 9 February]. He's trained for the last week. Faubert could be starting training today but it's a bit too early." The French international was hurt in a challenge by Claude Makelele in the last home fixture against Chelsea a fortnight ago, with Curbishley claiming he had "felt his calf again". Faubert's return to contention at the turn of the year after a summer achilles injury has been complicated by slight muscle problems.

The manager added: "He's come back from six or seven months out ... it's one of these things that happens to long term injuries. We just have to make sure that we get him fit now and that we've got him available for the run-in." Curbishley has already seen Scott Parker and Bobby Zamora add to his options in recent weeks, with both men making welcome returns to the starting lineup at Tottenham.

He is also still looking to blood youngsters like fit-again James Tomkins and Freddie Sears this season, having already given opportunities to Kyel Reid and Jack Collison. "I've been saying for the last couple of weeks that I won't be fazed about putting some of the young boys in and the timing's got to be right for that. They've been with us for the last five or six weeks being slowly introduced. I've not got a problem putting them in, we've to wait and see when the timing is right.

"I think after three 4-0 defeats it might not be the right time - but it's down to me as manager to do the best for the club as well and see if I've got anything there. We've got nine games left and we'll see what happens. They've impressed me a lot and they've been with us, slowly integrating." Talking about his squad as a whole, the manager said there have been plenty of positives to take from the campaign. "At the start of the season a few of the players thought they wouldn't get too much football when the new signings came in and they've ended up getting a lot of football. For me that's made the squad stronger."