CHIGWELL - Carlo Cudicini will return to Tottenham Hotspur's starting line-up on Saturday, 10 months after the Italian keeper suffered career-threatening injuries in a motorcycle accident on his way to training.
The former Chelsea player broke both wrists and badly damaged his pelvis when his BMW motorcycle slammed into a car near Tottenham's White Hart Lane stadium.
After surgery to insert a metal plate into his right wrist, Cudicini began the long road to recovery and his hard work was rewarded on Wednesday when he came off the bench to replace injured Heurelho Gomes in the Champions League play-off victory against Swiss side Young Boys.
With Gomes still troubled by a groin strain, manager Harry Redknapp has no qualms about the experienced Cudicini guarding Tottenham's net against Wigan Athletic - his first start since October.
Redknapp said he feared the worst for Cudicini immediately after the crash.
"I went to see Carlo in hospital and he was in a bad way," he told reporters on Friday. "Me, everybody, probably wondered if he would be able to come back when he had been smashed up so badly.
"It's not easy to come back from something so serious especially for a goalkeeper when you are going to be diving at people's feet and getting kicked.
"But he's a great trainer, great professional, looks after himself and he's a typical top Italian footballer," added Redknapp.
Cudicini's recovery is reassuring for Tottenham who will next month begin their first venture into the Champions League proper when they face holders Inter Milan, Werder Bremen and Twente Enschede.
During his 10 years at Chelsea he made numerous appearances in the competition, playing in the semi-final against Monaco in 2004 before losing the number one spot to Petr Cech.
"It was great to see Carlo come back," Redknapp said. "His family is steeped in goalkeeping tradition - his father was a great keeper for Milan and he's been there and done it all.
"Nothing fazes him and when he came on the other night I knew we were in safe hands."
Redknapp also said he had bolstered his goalkeeping options by signing Croatia's Stipe Pletikosa on loan from Spartak Moscow.comments