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jones5.jpgTrinidad and Tobago's 2010 World Cup campaign might have received an unlikely boost from the Sunderland Football Club after their medical staff confirmed yesterday that national striker Kenwyne Jones could return to training in six to eight weeks.
Jones sustained a knee injury in a 3-0 international friendly defeat to England on June 1 and was initially thought to be ruled out for the rest of the year.

However, medical checks revealed that Jones' cruciate ligament remains intact and he can therefore avoid major surgery.

Sunderland manager and former Manchester United star Roy Keane was delighted to have the services of his 2007/08 Player of the Year so soon into the new season after several gloomy forecasts.

"We expect him back in six to eight weeks," Keane told the club website. "He has avoided major surgery and it is fantastic news for everyone. Without going into the gory details about the surgery, the fact he has been in a brace since the injury happened has helped his recovery.

"We said that we would not know the full extent of the injury until the operation and that has shown he has not done his cruciate."

Whether he likes it or not, Keane's delight at the player's speedy return would be shared by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation's (TTFF) as they prepare for the CONCACAF semi-final phase of their 2010 campaign.

Keane was reluctant to release Jones and compatriot Carlos Edwards for international duty in the past and narrowly avoided a FIFA ban in March when neither player showed up for an international friendly away to Jamaica. The Irishman has already told another Sunderland employee and Trinidad and Tobago's 2006 World Cup captain Dwight Yorke to shelve plans about ending his retirement to help his country's 2010 bid.

Keane's cool feelings towards the TTFF are unlikely to have been helped by the fact that Jones was not fully recovered from a wrist injury when he lined up to face England in June against the club's wishes. The striker was down clutching his knee in pain midway through the first half after a collision with England and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James.

But, once more, Keane would be powerless to prevent Jones from wearing national colours if he is deemed fit.

The powerful 23-year-old attacker will certainly miss the first half of the CONCACAF semi-final stage and games against Cuba (away), Guatemala and the United States (away) on August 20 and September 6 and 10 respectively.

He would have barely restarted training by the time the "Soca Warriors" travel to Guatemala on October 11 and host the US, four days later. However, the TTFF and not Keane will decide if they wish to test the extent of the player's rehabiliation in those crucial qualifiers.

Trinidad and Tobago's last semi-final fixture will be at home against Cuba on November 19.

For now, Keane is happy to focus on the positive side of Jones' health forecast.

"We always talk about how great news it is for us and the supporters," said Keane, "but the best news is for Kenwyne himself.

"He knows now it's just a case of building up the strength around the leg, and hopefully there should not be any problems."

Trinidad and Tobago football's stakeholders would be paying close attention.