The most encouraging development yet for Fabrice Muamba arrived as Bolton Wanderers prepared to replay their FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur. The midfielder got out of bed for the first time as he continued his recovery from a cardiac arrest.
A small delegation from Bolton, including the manager, Owen Coyle, and chairman, Phil Gartside, will visit Muamba at the London chest hospital before the rearranged quarter-final at White Hart Lane. It is now 10 days since the Bolton midfielder collapsed, prompting the abandonment of the tie.
A statement released jointly by the hospital and Bolton said: "Fabrice Muamba remains in intensive care at the London chest hospital where his condition is serious but stable. He continues to make encouraging progress in his recovery.
"Over the weekend he has been able to sit out of bed for a short time, watch television and has begun to eat. However, he will need to continue to be closely monitored by the medical team for some time."
Coyle offered similar encouragement about Muamba's condition. In their first outing since Muamba fell ill in London, Bolton beat relegation rivals Blackburn Rovers 2-1 on Saturday.
Bolton's manager said: "Fabrice was able to watch Match of the Day on Sunday morning and he was deeply moved by the mosaic and the support he received from both the Bolton and Blackburn fans on the day.
"He was pleased that his team-mates won the match, although he fell back asleep when the score was 2-0. The fact he was able to watch a large part of the game, given where we were a week ago, is great news.
Coyle added: "Because Fabrice is getting better, that allows us to play the match. If it was different circumstances, it might be a different conversation. The great thing is that he is getting better. We will do our best, as we always try to do. Will it be emotional? Of course. But I can't say how it is going to be until we are physically there."
Signed match shirts from Tuesday night's game will be auctioned, with the funds raised distributed evenly between the London chest hospital and the London ambulance service along with the British Heart Foundation, Pan-African Heart Foundation and CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).
On the pre-match hospital visit, Coyle explained: "Everyone would want to be there but that would be impossible. Fabrice's recovery is paramount but the players who do go can filter back the news. That will help. Fabrice is not just a team-mate and a colleague. He is a dear friend to those lads. They want to know he is getting better."
Tottenham's Scott Parker has insisted the home players will be in the right frame of mind to face Bolton again. "I think so," Parker said. "The game before was obviously quite tragic and something that you obviously don't want to see. But with Fabrice's recovery it has probably helped us a lot and I'm sure it's helped Bolton as well. Obviously it was a little bit tricky after what happened but I think the lads are fine now because we hear Fabrice is doing pretty well, which is pleasing."
Parker added that Spurs will not lack any incentive to progress to the semi-final. A poor domestic run for Harry Redknapp's side improved with their draw at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea also await the winners of the Tottenham and Bolton tie.
"It's a big game for us and confidence is good after Saturday's result," said Parker. "There is a big prize and we would like a trip to Wembley, not just for the semi-final, we'd like to go to the final. So we are looking forward to it." Redknapp must decide whether to recall Aaron Lennon, the winger only recently having returned to training after a hamstring injury.