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December 28, 2007University of Louisville center David Padgett, who has been sidelined for more than a month after breaking his kneecap in the second game of the season, will return to practice Friday according to coach Rick Pitino.
"He'll practice a little bit today for the first time," Pitino said. "But it'll be non-contact type practice. He'll do a little bit more each day."
The 6-foot-11 senior captain will remain in non-contact drills currently, but is slated for a return to game-action in early to mid-January.
"I think there is a chance (he returns for the Jan. 10 game," Pitino said. "What David told us is that he'll be back as soon as he feels like he can impact the team in a positive way. He doesn't want to hurt the team. When he feels he is in shape enough to help the team, he'll come back. When that is is strictly up to him."
Pitino initially broke the news that Padgett was cleared to begin workouts in a post Tuesday afternoon on his Web site, www.rickpitino.com.
"(David will give us) a much-needed boost in helping us play fundamental basketball," Pitino said on his web site.
Padgett sustained the injury while playing against Jackson State on Nov. 18, and missed more than a month of action. Pitino confirmed his captain could return to action as soon as Jan. 10 when Big East foe West Virginia comes to Freedom Hall.
"He's been swimming in the pool and putting weights on his leg," Pitino said. "Remember, he couldn't bend his leg for three weeks."
Padgett averaged 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds last season. UofL (8-3) will host Iona Saturday at 3 p.m. The Gaels are led by former Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard, a friend and protege of Pitino.
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