Fulham's Final gesture

Wednesday 28 November 2001

Chris Coleman, who fractured his right leg in four places in a car crash 11 months ago, will lift the Worthington Cup for Fulham if they win the competition in February.

Temporary captain Andy Melville will stand aside to let the former Welsh international hold the trophy aloft at Cardiff 's Millennium Stadium if they progress that far.

Of course, Fulham, who play Tottenham for a place in the last eight at Craven Cottage tomorrow night, have to get to the Final first but the fact the gesture has been planned will be a big boost to Coleman, 31, who does not know if he will be able to return to first-team action this season.

Melville said: "I think we would let Chris hold up the trophy if we won it. I am only the stand-in. He is still the club captain and it would be brilliant if we got to Cardiff.

"He is at the training ground all the time and progressing well. I think he is training more than anyone. He is in earlier and leaves later.

"He has a presence about him which we still miss. But the lads are seeing him more and more in the dressing room."

Coleman is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation after breaking his leg and rupturing ligaments in January and joined in first-team five-a-side matches last week.

He hopes to be playing again by the end of the season after initially being told he would not be jogging until next year.

But he said: "You cannot be too confident because you do not know what is around the corner.

"The last few months I have made incredible progress. I did not expect to be joining in training with the ball yet but we are not going to rush anything."

Coleman, Melville and Kit Symons all have caps for Wales and a cup final appearance at their national stadium would mean a great deal to them.

Coleman believes Fulham's main focus should be a respectable finish in the Premiership but added: "I think we have a big enough and good enough squad to go far in one of the cup competitions."