Footballer Fabrice Muamba can now "breathe independently" and has been able to recognise family members and respond to questions, his club said tonight.

The 23-year-old remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital after collapsing during an FA Cup match on Saturday.

But Bolton Wanderers Football Club said in a statement on its website that he was continuing to show signs of improvement.

A joint statement by the club and the hospital trust said: "Fabrice Muamba remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital. He is continuing to show signs of improvement this evening.

"He is currently able to breathe independently without the aid of a ventilator. He has also been able to recognise family members and respond to questions appropriately.

"These are all positive signs of progress. However, his condition remains serious and our medical staff in intensive care will continue to monitor and treat him.

"His family and club would like to thank the media for continuing to respect their privacy at this time."

It was also confirmed that his heart started beating without the aid of medication and he had begun to move his arms and legs of his own accord after spending two days in hospital.

Curtis Codrington, a friend who has visited the player, said: "Fabrice is speaking and moving. He has spoken minimal words in French and English."

Muamba collapsed on the pitch at 6.11pm as Bolton Wanderers played Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane during an FA Cup quarter-final clash.