Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'Nightmare' over for Returning Star; Duff Eyes Up Comeback against Villa

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'Nightmare' over for Returning Star; Duff Eyes Up Comeback against Villa

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Gilder Chief Sports Writer

DAMIEN Duff is determined to put his injury nightmare behind him at St James's Park next week after insisting he will be available for action when Newcastle resume their Premiership campaign against Aston Villa.

The Republic of Ireland international has not made a first-team appearance this year having suffered a recurrence of a knee problem in December but, having returned to full training, Duff has declared himself available for top-flight duty. Having seen Stephen Carr and Scott Parker make their comebacks at the weekend, Glenn Roeder will hope that an unprecedented fitness crisis is finally nearing an end.

Titus Bramble and Celestine Babayaro could both join Duff in returning to action against Martin O'Neill's men. "I'm back in training now so, touch wood, it will stay that way and I will stay injury free for the rest of the season," said the 27-year-old last night.

"I have had a few setbacks over the past couple of months and it has been a nightmare time. It has been a hard time but I'm just glad to be back in training and it would be great to be involved next Wednesday."

Meanwhile, Jonathan Woodgate has told Newcastle supporters he will always cherish the time he spent at St James's Park after admitting he still retains a soft spot for his former club.

The 27-year-old spent 18 memorable months on Tyneside before joining Real Madrid in a pounds 13.4m deal in 2004 and, although he discussed returning to United with Freddie Shepherd last summer, the England international instead opted to join Middlesbrough. It is a decision the Gallowgate faithful have regretted ever since and although Glenn Roeder has opened talks with an unnamed 'top international defender', it remains to be seen whether the Magpies boss will sign one as good as Woodgate.

Despite traditional North-East rivalries, the Teessider has made no secret of the admiration he still has for Newcastle. …

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