Friedel set for early return

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BLACKBURN ROVERS goalkeeper Brad Friedel could make his return to action way ahead of schedule following his knee operation.

The American shot-stopper went under the knife after the Everton game on November 17, and it was thought that he would miss a month of action as a result.

However, Friedel has responded well to treatment and could be in contention to return for Saturday's clash with Fulham.

Friedel would then have only missed the one game, Sunday's defeat at Charlton, and he is delighted with his own progress.

"I am recovering well and my knee is responding all the time," said Friedel. "One thing is for sure, the pain has gone away.

"Right now I'm heading for 100 percent fitness and it's a pretty good feeling."

The news will be a welcome boost for Graeme Souness as Friedel has been in splendid form for him so far this season, after impressing for his country at the World Cup finals.

Rovers could also benefit with the return of Garry Flitcroft and Martin Taylor for Saturday's visit of Fulham.

Taylor has missed three games with a hamstring injury while Flitcroft's ankle has kept him out since the Uefa Cup tie with Celtic, but both were close to making the defeat at The Valley.

"My ankle still felt a bit sore on Sunday so the medical staff told me not to risk it," said Flitcroft.

"I could have ended up missing another two or three weeks if I'd tried to play on it."