Grieving LuaLua to return despite tragic loss

Lomana LuaLua intends to return to help Portsmouth in their battle against relegation from the Barclays Premiership despite the tragic death of his baby son.

The striker, who led the Democratic Republic of Congo to the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup, returned from Egypt at the weekend after being told by Congo officials his 18-month-old son had died of an illness on January 20.

But he returned to training with Pompey yesterday and is believed to have asked manager Harry Redknapp to include him in the side for Saturday's daunting fixture at home to Manchester United.

LuaLua said: "I am devastated by the tragic loss but grateful and appreciative of the kind wishes and support I have received.

"As I am sure everybody will understand, I just wish to be with my family and be allowed to grieve privately.

"But I owe it to my team-mates to put my sorrow to one side and play on. I have to try to carry on and keep coming into training."

The 25-year-old, who has two other small children, missed four Portsmouth matches to play in the African Nations Cup during which time Redknapp's team claimed only one point and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool.

Earlier this season, LuaLua missed five Premiership games after being diagnosed with malaria following his return from international duty with DR Congo.

Portsmouth said in a statement: "Lomana LuaLua has thanked an enormous amount of people for their kind wishes and has also been deeply touched by many messages of sympathy.

"Portsmouth Football Club hope he will be left alone to properly grieve and asks that everybody respects his wishes of privacy. Everyone at the club would like to offer their condolences to our striker."

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