Jorge back in business

Jorge Andrade's positive attitude was perfectly encapsulated in his decision to travel with Portugal's World Cup squad to Germany this summer despite his injury ruling him out, writes Guy Atkinson.

Jorge Andrade finally overcame his nine-month injury hell against Sevilla recently, but the Deportivo La Coruna defender may have unwittingly stepped into the midst of an even bigger battle.

The 28-year-old made his long-awaited return to the starting XI in the comprehensive 4-0 defeat at the hands of the rampant league leaders — a result which leaves the 2004 Champions League semi-finalists perched just four points above the Primera Liga relegation zone.

In a season beset by injury problems the return of the experienced defender may well provide Joaqu Caparros' side with the fillip needed to secure their top-flight status for another year.

The bruising Portuguese stopper, who has won 45 caps for his country, tore the tendons in his right knee during a domestic clash with Barcelona in March and his absence has coincided with his side's slippery slide down the Primera Liga standings.

They won just four of the 12 games that Andrade missed at the tail end of last season, and have stumbled to a feeble four wins in the first 16 games of this campaign.

But perhaps more significantly it is the goals against column which most potently highlights the effect Andrade's absence has had on the side. After conceding 23 goals this season, a record which is the fourth worst in the division, the need for the former Porto man to make a successful return is imperative.

But despite a less than triumphant return Andrade admits it was just a relief to be back in action again.

"I am happy to finally play again, but the defeat was bad for the team," he said. Before the injury Andrade was fast building a reputation as one of Europe's most fearsome central defenders, with the likes of Inter Milan, Chelsea and Manchester United all linked with a big-money move for the defender.

But he insists he is putting any thoughts of a transfer to the back of his mind as he concentrates on establishing himself back in the Deportivo team.

"It's my intention to stay at the club," he said.

"I know nothing about a possible move and it would be the club acting, not me. I am convinced that we will have a great team and I want to help. I am looking forward to that moment and to work with Caparros again, who reminds me of (Luiz Felipe) Scolari." It is not only for Andrade's supreme presence on the pitch that his return is so important — but his contribution to the team spirit has made his comeback all the more vital for Deportivo.

Andrade's positive attitude was perfectly encapsulated in his decision to travel with Portugal's World Cup squad to Germany this summer despite his injury ruling him out.

He remained with the squad as their unofficial `supporter' during their fairytale run to the semi-finals.

They were eventually eliminated by a rejuvenated French side but Andrade's contribution behind-the-scenes was lauded as a significant factor in their success.

And coach Caparros will be hoping he can have an equally positive effect on Deportivo's quest to beat the drop.

@ PA Sport, 2007, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.