x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Coyle's thoughts on Muamba rather than football

The manager revealed he had a "brief conversation" with the midfielder but he has still a long way to go in his recovery.

Owen Coyle, the Bolton Wanderers manager, says it is still too early to focus on his side's relegation battle despite the encouraging progress being made by Fabrice Muamba.

Coyle revealed yesterday he had a "brief conversation" with the midfielder, who is still in intensive care at The London Chest Hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest in Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham Hotspur.

But he stressed the 23 year old has a long way to go in his recovery and Bolton's scheduled game with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday remains on the back burner.

"It's very early in the process, the doctors have stressed that so we all know what's involved," Coyle told reporters outside the hospital. "Fabrice still has a long way to go but it's encouraging signs and while that is the case it's really positive and we move forward from that point.

"I was fortunate to see him and had a brief conversation which will obviously remain between us. We have to understand it's early in his continued fight for improvement."

Coyle hailed the "remarkable work" being done by hospital staff and said he could "never have envisaged" Muamba making such improvement in such a short time.

But when asked if that meant he could now think of focusing on Saturday's game Coyle said: "The answer to that is no, because that's not something of great importance to me at this moment in time."

He said that as Muamba continues to improve, that was something that could be looked at.

"My thoughts are that we will have the group back in training [today] and we will look at it from then," he said. "The one concern we all have is for Fabrice only."

* Press Association