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Orlando Pirates have been given a boost with the news that Phungwayo, Sangweni and Mahamutsa are close to returning to the team's starting lineup

Siyabonga Sangweni, Patrick Phungwayo and Rooi Mahamutsa have all recovered from their injuries and are taking part in training along with the rest of the team, Pirates’ interim head coach Eric Tinkler revealed on Tuesday night.

“Siyabonga and Patrick are now in full training, meaning that they are actually now with our fitness trainer. Before that they were just with the physiotherapist,” Tinkler said after Pirates defeated Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Phungwayo has not played since injuring his achilles tendon during the Buccaneers’ MTN8 final loss to Platinum Stars in September last year.

Fellow centre-back Sangweni, who also damaged his achilles, in October last year, is also a welcome returner to the Soweto outfit, having been out of action for more than four months.

Despite the good news, however, Tinkler said he and his technical team had to be realistic when bringing the players back into the team.

“You can understand they’ve been out for over four months. We’ll need at least three friendly games that they’ll need to be involved in before we could even consider them for selection,” Tinkler added.

“First, is to get their fitness levels up, which will probably be over the next two weeks.

“I would say at least a month, being fair on those players.”

Meanwhile, Mahamutsa is close to a full recovery from a dislocated elbow and Tinkler confirmed that the 32-year-old could soon be making his return to the team.

“Rooi Mahamutsa is slightly different because of the type of injury he has. It hasn’t stopped him from training, so he has been constantly training,” Tinkler said.

“He’s just not allowed to get involved in any games or games where there might be contact.

“He goes for a final assessment now on the fifth of March, where I think they take off that brace and then he should be available for selection.”

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