The hospital treating Fabrice Muamba have cautioned against over-optimism despite the rapid progress made by the Bolton midfielder following his cardiac arrest on Saturday.
It was confirmed last night that Muamba has started to recognise family members and respond to their questions.
Forty-eight hours after the 23-year-old collapsed during Bolton’s FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, it was the clearest indication yet that Muamba is winning his battle for life.
However, both medical staff and Bolton officials do not want supporters to get the idea that Muamba is almost back to normal.
In situations such as this it is not unknown for patients to plateau after a period of recovery, and Muamba remains on the critical list.
“Fabrice Muamba remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital and is continuing to show signs of improvement,” said a joint statement released by the London Chest Hospital and Bolton.
“He is now able to breathe independently, without the aid of a ventilator and he is able to recognise family members and respond to questions appropriately. These are positive signs of progress.
“However, his condition remains serious and our medical staff in intensive care will continue to monitor and treat him.”
The confirmation followed claims from Curtis Codrington, who says he is a close friend of Muamba and is one of only 83 people followed by the player on social networking site Twitter, that he had started speaking in French and English.
Earlier, speaking for the first time since the game, Bolton captain Kevin Davies said Muamba owed his life to the support he received almost instantly.
“There is no doubt in my mind if it wasn’t down to all those people, we wouldn’t even be in this situation,” said Davies.
Bolton have not confirmed how long manager Owen Coyle intends to maintain his own vigil for the player, although he is expected to remain in the capital for a further two days.
That would throw into question Bolton’s ability to fulfil Saturday’s scheduled Premier League game with Blackburn at the Reebok Stadium.
It is understood there is enough flexibility within the fixture schedule for that game to be postponed, although the rescheduled FA Cup tie with Tottenham would take precedence in any rearrangement and that would normally take place at some point next week.
As yet there has been no request for a postponement though, with the Blackburn game far from Coyle’s mind at the moment.
“We are all after the same objective; to see that lovely young man, who has such a fantastic smile. That’s what we want to see again,” said the Scot.
“When you look through what he’s come through in his life already, he’s a natural fighter.
“Also, he’s a physically fit young man so I think those two things will be a source of help and encouragement.”