JOEY O'Brien is back in the Reebok reckoning after putting his injury troubles behind him.

The young Dubliner missed the whole of last season with a knee problem but has impressed Sammy Lee with the way he is fighting back to full fitness.

Now the Wanderers boss is excited at the prospect of seeing him pick up where he left off last summer, when his career was ready for lift-off.

"Joey's made great strides," Lee said. "He's worked very hard and, when he comes back, it will be like having new signing."

O'Brien, who hit the Premiership heights when he switched from centre-midfield to right back as emergency understudy when Nicky Hunt was injured, first complained of knee trouble during last summer's pre-season games. Wanderers had problems diagnosing the injury, which ultimately prolonged his absence, and when they finally identified the cause, his season was effectively a write-off.

But Lee says the 21-year-old, who was capped by the Republic of Ireland in March 2006, has shown great character to bounce back.

"This was Joey's first real big injury," he said. "For any footballer, getting an injury is bad, but this was at the start of his meteoric rise.

"The good thing about Joey is that he's been working with some very good people throughout his recovery process and now he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It would be great for him and for the football club to have Joey O'Brien back in the fold."

Lee, meanwhile, is showing a personal interest in Blerim Dzemaili, the highly-rated Swiss midfielder who suffered a serious knee injury training with his club, FC Zurich, after signing a pre-contract agreement to join Wanderers this summer.

Wanderers took control of Dzemali's treatment, sending him to Colorado in the United States to be operated on by the world renowned orthopaedic surgeon, Richard Steadman. And, although the 21-year-old is back in Switzerland, they are in regular contact with him.

"I've been to Italy and Switzerland recently, checking on targets, and while I was over there I went to see him and his family," Lee said. "One of physios, Jimmy Murphy, has also been to see him and went to Colorado with him. Now he's back at his old club, who are doing very well with him.

"He has to go back for another operation in four or five weeks, so we're in constant touch with him."