CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The return of South Africa flanker Schalk Burger after an 18-month injury layoff is likely on Friday after he was named among the substitutes for Western Province's match against the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup.

Burger, world rugby's player of the year in 2004, went off after the first 20 minutes of the 2012 Super Rugby season with a knee injury and has not played since.

His comeback at the end of last year was stymied by a calf muscle injury and then a bout of bacterial meningitis that saw him hospitalised in March.

"I don't think Schalk will get more than 20 minutes on Friday, but it's all part of his comeback, introducing him from the bench and we will see how we can use him and how he goes," said WP coach Allister Coetzee in a media statement on Tuesday.

"He's looked sharp at training, and there are bound to be a few timing issues, but we all look forward to seeing how he goes."

The 30-year-old Burger has 68 caps having made his debut in the 2003 season. He was part of the Springbok side that lifted the World Cup in 2007.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Justin Palmer; mark.gleeson@thomsonreuters.com +27828257807 Messaging mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)