Reigning BBL league champions Newcastle Eagles have been handed a significant boost after ‘Prince’ Charles Smith was finally given the all clear to return to action.

The forward who is a hugely popular figure with the fans has been left frustrated on the sidelines for the first month of the new campaign waiting for confirmation from the Home Office that he has gained British citizenship.

After several months of waiting, Smith eventually got the paperwork he needed last weekend and the club have since been able to register him with the governing body and the league in time for him to line- up for this weekends important double-header with Sheffield Sharks and Worcester Wolves.

The news of Smith now being eligible to play was greeted with delight by player-coach Fab Flournoy who claimed.

“Charles is a veteran of this team and has been one of the biggest factors in our success during the last few years. To have him back on board and available is tremendous for me as a coach, for the team and we know that our fans love him too.”

“He has been practising with us, knows our system inside out and from that standpoint, integrating him back into our team shouldn’t be too much trouble although we have to be mindful that we make sure we build on what we have achieved so far.”

“As a veteran in this league, his experience will be a huge bonus for us.”

Managing Director Paul Blake meanwhile added, “I guess it has been frustrating for everyone and not least Charles himself who just wants to play basketball and that is understandable. It has taken maybe longer than we had initially thought it would but all that is important is that the situation has been resolved. I know that the supporters will give Charles a great ovation when he finally steps out onto court against Sheffield and that is something to look forward to.”

“Getting any player back into the team that knows the club, the way we play and of course has experience of winning plenty of trophies had to bode well for the rest of the season as we hope to continue to compete for silverware and build on our recent success.”

Newcastle Eagles host Sheffield Sharks at the MetroRadio Arena this forthcoming Friday 24th October. Tip-off is at 7.30pm.