Boss Ståle Solbakken hopes to see Tongo Doumbia return to his best after takimg him out of the firing line ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Bristol City (3pm).
The Mali international midfielder, who made a positive impact at the start of the season, has struggled to keep the matchday pace in recent games with the boss admitting he has “hit the wall” when it comes to his fitness.
He has therefore returned to France for five days to combine rest with a fitness programme set by Fitness Coach Tony Daley, hopefully to return feeling stronger and raring to go for the derby with Birmingham a week tomorrow (5.20pm).
The boss believes missing out on pre-season is partly behind Doumbia’s recent struggles.
“I have sent Tongo on holiday for five days to recover,” he said.
“He never had a pre-season in France and came here more or less after we finished the hard work.
“From maybe being our best player in the first six or seven games, he has faded in the last few weeks.
“It’s also his mental stability when his body is so much weaker than five or six weeks ago.
“When he was first here, there was the feeling that with the crowd, he could just force his way through, but we haven’t seen that in the last four or five games.
“His legs haven’t been as strong.
“So I think it’s important that his batteries can be recharged and I have sent him to France with a special training programme from Tony Daley.
“I feel very sorry for him because he’s tried very hard over the last two weeks but he’s only been going in one direction.
“He will be back on Tuesday.”