Andy Yiadom: Ghana and Reading fullback takes major step towards Championship return with U23 action

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Ghana defender Andy Yiadom is close to making a return to first-team football after a two-month spell in the treatment room as he featured for his club's U23 side on Friday.

The defender has been out of action since sustaining an injury in a 3-0 loss to Stoke City in the first week of November 2020.

He took a giant step towards joining Reading's Championship campaign with 64 minutes of action in Reading's U23 fixture with Fulham.

"Yiadom is fully recovered now, he's in the final stages of working up his game fitness," Paunovic said after Tuesday's 3-0 win over Coventry City, Berkshire Live has reported.

"We are looking to give him an U23s game so we will see how that goes. Then we'll fully reintegrate him into first-team training.

"[Yakou] Meite is already working on the field with our physios and fitness coaches. It looks good so he'll be the next one back - or even the same time as Yiadom.

"[Felipe] Araruna is already with the team but he's had a setback. It was more because of the overload and anxiety that we all had together to get him back after being out for so long.

"But he should be fine by the end of the month, along with Yiadom and Meite."

It has so far been an injury-ravaged season for Yiadom who was out injured at the start of the season.

Upon regaining full fitness, he featured in a 2-0 win over Derby County before suffering a setback which set him back to the sidelines until November when he made a return in a 3-0 loss to Preston North End. Three days later, he featured in his third game of the term before suffering another injury relapse.

Yiadom's time away from football has not only affected his club but also his national team.

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The 29-year-old has had to sit out Ghana's friendly fixtures against Mali and Qatar in October owing to his predicaments.

In November, he received a late call-up for the Black Stars' 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Sudan but was forced to turn down the invitation over fitness issues.

He will hope to rejoin CK Akonnor's set-up when they reassemble for the concluding part of the Afcon qualifiers in March when Ghana take on South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe.