Boss Dean Saunders is delighted to have winger Stephen Hunt back fit and available – but said he may need more training before returning to the fray.
The livewire winger has suffered from a troublesome hip and groin problem which has seen his last league action coming on the final day at Wigan last season, with the current campaign’s impact limited to the Capital One Cup against Aldershot and Chelsea.
Since then he has undergone further surgery, but having returned to training this week is in with an outside chance of being involved in the 18 against Blackpool this afternoon (3pm).
“He’s one of those players who is naturally fit – he likes running about and he’s really enthusiastic,” said Saunders.
“I don’t think he’s ready to start a game – he played 50 minutes in a practice match and he did well.
“He’s a good character around the building, he’s a good character on the pitch, he likes working hard and he wants to be part of the team.
“He’s a good lad so I’m pleased he’s back out training but I just hope he can get through the next week’s training because that will be the test for him.
“He’s gone from doing nothing to working hard so I’d imagine we’ll try to get a game for him on Monday if there’s no reaction.”
Saunders admits Hunt’s enthusiasm sometimes needs to be reined in giving his over-riding desire to return to action, but believes he could still have plenty to offer in terms of his quality.
“He can’t cruise and take it easy – five minutes the session on Tuesday, he sprinting the length of the pitch in a counter attack,” added the boss.
“I was cringing watching him, thinking ‘steady on, it’s your first day back’.
“You can’t hold him back.
“He’s a good player, that’s the main thing, but it’s not all about work.
“You’ve got to have some talent as well and I like talented players who care what they’re doing.”
Hunt and Dave Edwards were both battling to be considered for today’s game, as the short-term injury list starts to be whittled down.
The boss added: “You can never question injured players – Wayne Hennessey has a ruptured cruciate ligament, but it’s the smaller injuries that we have to get back quicker on the pitch and make sure they hit the ground running.
“Consequently they work harder in the gym than we do outside so when they’re ready, they can hit the ground running rather than trying to catch up with everyone.”