Whizzkid Alex Rhodes has made an amazing recovery from the cruciate ligament injury that threatened to keep him out of action until Christmas and can now bring about a turnaround in Brentford's fortunes as well as his own.

Rhodes, who has been out of action for over nine months, returned surprisingly early this week to make substitute appearances against Bristol City on Saturday and Walsall on Tuesday and came close to increasing the Bees points tally in each.

He could be given his first start of the season in Saturday's home match against Rotherham.

His return and the emergence of young Ryan Peters has resulted in manager Martin Allen making former Swansea and Watford striker Scott Fitzgerald available for loan with a view to a permanent transfer.

Allen said: "I have now got six forwards so in fairness to Scott and to cut costs I am letting him go. It is a big plus getting Alex Rhodes back.

"The other good things to come from being without experienced players through injury are the promising displays of our young full-backs.

"Karleigh Osbourne, making his league debut at 17, was our best player in the first-half against Bristol, while Sam Tillen did well in his second and third league games."

Rhodes came on in the 67th minute in the 0-0 draw at Walsall and combined with fellow sub Dudley Campbell to create the best chance of the game.

Rhodes beat Craig Pead and sent in a cross to Campbell, who was foiled by John Ruddy's Gordon Banks-like reflex save.

Wideman Rhodes had also made a dramatic entrance in last Saturday's 3-2 defeat by Bristol City, almost snatching a late equaliser with a shot that skewed wide in the dying minutes.

A fully fit Rhodes might have saved Brentford from their first home league defeat of the season their second reverse in succession.

Bristol City were determined to impress new boss Gary Johnson, who was preferred to caretaker Keith Millen, the former Bees defender, and went ahead on 12 minutes through Marcus Stewart. They were then awarded a dubious free-kick, which Luke Wilkshire curled home in Beckhamesque style.

Half-time substitute Paul Brooker reduced the arrears by bundling the ball home from close range, only for Steve Brooker to nod City 3-1 ahead on 74 minutes.

City nearly scored again when Stuart Nelson rashly fouled David Cotterill, but the keeper made amends by saving the penalty low to his left from Wilkshire.

Centre-half Steve Sodje pulled a goal back on 80 minutes by out-jumping the City defence to head home, and it nearly set up a fairytale ending for Rhodes.

Brentford: Nelson; Osborne, Turner, Sodje, Tillen; Tabb, Pratley (Rhodes, 78 mins), Lewis, Rankin (Campbell, ht); Owusu (Brooker, ht), Gayle. Subs not used: Bankole, Fitzgerald. Att: 6,413.

Left-back Andy Frampton, back from suspension, was given a hard time by Paul Merson on Tuesday until the Walsall player-manager was carried off injured on 35 minutes.

Tillen switched successfully to the other full-back position for the first time as Brentford had three right-backs injured.

Brentford: Nelson; Tillen (Campbell, 71 mins), Sodje, Turner, Frampton; Brooker, Lewis, Pratley, Tabb (Rhodes, 67 mins); Owusu (Gayle, 90 mins), Rankin. Subs not used: Peters, Bankole. Att: 4,873.

Meanwhile, Allen has denied reports suggesting he was interviewed for the Bristol City manager's job before it was given to Johnson last week.

He said: "There is no truth in these suggestions.

"I am contracted to Brentford and, if I talked to another club, I would be in breach of contract."

Allen has also denied speculation that Sodje will be joining West Ham, Fulham or Nottingham Forest.

l Skipper Ricky Newman is three weeks away from making his debut for Brentford after the success of his third knee operation since joining from Reading in the close season.

Allen, whose playing career was ended by a knee injury at Portsmouth, said: "Ricky apologised to me, but I told him there was no need he has done everything he can to get fit."

Michael Dobson (foot) is also ruled out, but Kevin O'Connor (ankle) and Eddie Hutchinson (hamstring) could be back in the squad to face Rotherham.

Brentford will run their kid for a quid' scheme on Saturday.

U6s get in free, while tickets for children aged six to 15 cost £1.