JOINT-boss John Snape hailed the “exemplary” attitude of Worcester City captain Brad Birch during his enforced spell on the sidelines.

Birch is eligible to return for Saturday’s home clash with Stourport Swifts (3pm) having served a four-match ban for his sending off against Sherwood Colliery last month – his second red card of the campaign.

The Worcester-born midfielder, who represented City at youth level, had been playing through the pain barrier following an ankle problem suffered at Boldmere St Michaels in September.

Birch’s comeback against Coventry Sphinx was short lived but he completed 81 minutes against South Normanton Athletic and again reported for duty in the FA Vase.

Snape revealed Birch had tried to downplay the severity of his injury and believes the frustration of not being at full throttle played a part in the incident that led to his dismissal.

“Brad’s return is a big positive,” said Snape. “He has served his suspension and is ready to resume action.

“His conduct off the pitch and the way he has trained has been exemplary and while he might be a bit rusty after missing so many matches, he is determined to make an impression.

“He has found it all very frustrating but to his credit, has got his head down and focused on training. He is over that ankle problem, ready to play and itching to get out there.

“The one thing that didn’t help that day was the injury he had been carrying. He was desperate to play and in hindsight, perhaps that didn’t help him with regard to the red card.

“Players sometimes hide the severity of things from you when they want to be out there and Brad probably falls into that category.

“Okay, we want lads to be honest about their fitness but it is not a bad trait to want to be out there so badly that you’re prepared to put your body on the line like that.

“I probably did it when I played and you would much rather see that than have someone who cries off with something minor.

“Thankfully, all of that is done and dusted now. We have moved on and look forward to seeing Brad back at his best.”

Birch’s comeback forms part of a double boost for Snape with Jamie Smith emerging unscathed from City’s first training session of the week.

Smith was involved in a car accident en route to Sporting Khalsa last month, suffering whiplash which has proved persistent.

“Jamie had a recurrence of his injury but having rested he came through Tuesday’s training session without a problem,” said Snape.

“He will be assessed to see whether he’s ready.”