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Oxford United defender Capaldi unscathed after return to action
9:10am Wednesday 14th March 2012 in Sport
Tony Capaldi’s hopes of making his Oxford United debut this season have been boosted after a successful run-out for the reserves.
The full back came through 45 minutes unscathed in Tuesday’s 1-0 Combination defeat against Southend United at Roots Hall.
It was a rare bright moment for the Northern Ireland international, who has endured a nightmare start to his career with the U’s.
After signing from More-cambe last summer, Capaldi picked up a back injury in pre-season which ruled him out until January.
On his return – a friendly against Bristol City – the 30-year-old ruptured cartilage in one of his knees, which needed surgery.
Following another period of rehabilitation, Capaldi overcame a major hurdle by coming through the first half of Tuesday’s reserve game with no immediate reaction.
U’s assistant manager Mickey Lewis always planned to give the former Cardiff City defender only 45 minutes and believes a first-team debut is realistic before the end of the campaign.
He said: “Tony’s got half a chance if he comes through this week without any problems.
“He’s not close to playing for the first-team at the moment, but there are still eight weeks of the season left, so if he carries on, there’s no reason why not.
“He’ll step up his training now, but after all the problems he’s had this season, we won’t rush him back.
“It was definitely good to get him through 45 minutes. After being out for so long, we didn’t want to push him any further than that.”
Capaldi was part of a strong defence for the visitors in Essex, which included Harry Worley and Damian Batt.
Worley stood out against a Southend side featuring Rowan Vine, Ryan Hall and Christian Dailly.
Vine, on trial from Queens Park Rangers, scored the only goal of the game three minutes from time, but despite the result, Lewis was pleased with the display.
He said: “We switched off at the end for their goal, but I thought it was a pretty solid performance from a young team against a much more experienced side.”
Portsmouth’s Lewis Stock-ford made his second appearance for the U’s reserves in midfield, while winger Umpha Koroma was also on trial from Stoke City.
Oxford Utd Res: Brown, Batt, Worley, Long, Capaldi (Lynn 46), Alderman, Stockford, Morris, Koroma (O’Dowda 74), Marsh, Udumaga. Subs not used: Allen, Crocombe.