Date: 19th January 2006 at 11:20am
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Kevin Phillips played in the reserves local derby against Small Heath (aka Birmingham City) last night.

The 32-year-old striker not only stepped up his comeback from ankle surgery, he proved why he was brought to the club in the first place and scored the first goal in a 3-1 win.

Phillips, who has been out with an ankle injury that required surgery since ‘that’ game against Doncaster last November in the league cup, managed 70 minutes.

David O’Leary has said that they won’t rush the player back and it looks highly unlikely that he will feature against Spurs at the weekend, although with our ever decreasing squad, he may push for a place on the bench. Phillips should feature again for the reserves next Tuesday against Manchester City in the hopes of proving his fitness in time for the FA Cup 4th round game against Port Vale. His fighting qualities were certainly missed in the last round against Hull!

O’Leary told the official site: ‘Kevin came through an hour and a bit. He’s a bit stiff this morning, so he’ll have a rest day of massage and stretching. Then he’ll train tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Hopefully then he’ll have a full game on Tuesday. If he comes through that game and there’s no reaction, we’ll do the same with him on the Wednesday and at this stage next week, we hope to be looking at the bench for the Port Vale game.’

Adding: ‘It’s a nice boost to have him back in action, but Kevin’s been out for almost two months, so to say he was able to get over an hour under his belt and score a wonderful goal is great news.’