Bolton manager Owen Coyle believes Fabrice Muamba could play football again and has not ruled out a return as early as next season.
Muamba has been discharged from hospital as he continues to recover from a cardiac arrest suffered during an FA Cup clash with Tottenham in March.
And his manager believes the Congo-born midfielder has the mental strength to return back to the football field following his ordeal.
“Knowing Fabrice and how much of a battler he is, it wouldn’t surprise me if he comes back,” Coyle told the BBC.
“God willing, if he ever comes back to play then of course, that will be a huge boost to everybody.
“You can always tell from the sound of somebody’s voice and he sounded in a good place. It was great to hear from him and he sounded terrific.”
Italian footballer Piermario Morosini died from a heart attack on April 14 whilst playing for Livorno and Coyle believes his death is a stark warning to those who believe Muamba’s recovery is complete.
“That’s a huge boost given where he’s come from – we’ve all seen the sad events in Italy,” he said.
“I understand, because of the interest, that everybody thinks he’s released from hospital so that’s it, he’s singing and dancing down the street. But people have got to understand there’s room for continued improvement.
“His little lad hadn’t been able to see him for a period so it’s important we give them that time to be together.
“(Whether he plays again) would be Fabrice and his family’s decision. He’ll not come under any pressure from us.
“Once he feels he’s up to it then all good and well. If it’s next season, great.”
Bolton are currently embroiled in a relegation battle but have received a timely boost with the return to training of South Korean winger Lee Chung-Yong following a double-leg break.
“I’m hoping tomorrow and Saturday he’ll be able to train with the reserves,” Coyle said.
“If he comes through that without any reaction then hopefully he can join my group next week and start to step up his training from there.
“We’d love to have him involved but the most important thing is, in terms of the long term, we don’t do anything detrimental. He’s worked hard to get himself to the level he is now and he’s going to be a very special player.”