THE Professional Footballers’ Association is to pay for a speech therapist to work with former Bolton Wanderers star Gary Parkinson.

Parkinson, aged 44, has had locked-in syndrome since suffering a stroke in September 2010.

He has been receiving round-the-clock care at the Priory High Bank Centre in Summerseat, near Ramsbottom, for the past year, but his family, wife Debbie and children Luke, Chloe and Sophie, hope he can return to his Westhoughton home for Christmas.

And now PFA chief Gordon Taylor said his organisation is going to fund a speech therapist to work with Parkinson in the hope that he may regain some ability to talk.

Mr Taylor, chief executive of the PFA, said: “We have been involved from the very beginning as it is such a tragic case with his situation, and the bravery which he has shown and the dedication shown by his wife Debbie and his family. There has been great support from players at the clubs he has played at. Recently he has been in hospital at Bury and his family are looking to try and get him home, and to have some therapy for him.

“I have spoken with the family about speech therapy for Gary and it something they are looking at trying to see if it can bring about an improvement. Where there is life there is hope and everybody will keep hoping and keep trying to bring about an improvement in his condition. We are going to look at funding the speech therapist and helping out with that where possible, we have spoken to Debbie about it.”

A trust set up to raise funds for Gary’s care has raised about £100,000, with former teammates from his clubs holding fundraising events.