O'Neil | 'We're pleased to have him back'

Gary O’Neil revealed that both Pedro Neto and Mario Lemina are fit and ready to start in the Premier League, having come through a tough test on Tuesday night with flying colours.

The Brentford replay provided Neto with a third substitute appearance since returning from injury, but comfortably the longest after the tie went to extra time. Lemina returned to the fore against the Bees, following time away due to personal reasons, and also came through it unscathed. O’Neil takes his side to Brighton & Hove Albion next and believes Neto and Lemina have a role to play, as may Nathan Fraser, following his goal scoring exploits in the week.

On new fresh injury concerns

“We’re OK. Nobody missed training today. Matheus Cunha managed to join in most of it. Some of the boys came out of training slightly early because they played a long time the other night, but everyone was out there.

“Touch wood, not an injury at the football club at the moment, which is good because we’re not blessed with loads of numbers at the moment with a few of the boys away and Joao suspended. It’s important that we try and keep the injury record as good as it has been so far.”

On Lemina and Neto being in a good place

“I would say they’re both available to start at Brighton. Pedro’s probably slightly further along than Mario, because he’s built his up over a little while now. We’ve taken our time with him and tried to get him to this spot as safely and as sensibly as possible.

“Mario missed a lot of training with the team. He worked hard on his own while he was away, got some good work done, but it’s never quite the same. I think he felt tired after his 65 minutes the other night, but we’ll get another three or four days of training into him before the next one. He’ll be fit to start and let’s see how long he can last.”

On having Lemina back around

“It’s obviously a tough thing to go through. I know the role he’ll look to play within his family, he’ll take a lot of it on himself and will make sure everyone’s OK, which is the role he takes up here as well. He spent a good spell of time with his family, making sure that everyone was OK and that he felt ready to come back. When he arrived back, he was ready, and he’s ready to work now. I know he’s excited to get back to it and we’re pleased to have him back.

“Mario has a real, good intelligence of what we’re trying to do. He’s well respected in the group, so is good at delivering and carrying messages for the team, as quite a few of the lads are, but Mario is one you can definitely rely on the sideline to make sure the lads know the direction we’re trying to go in.”

On Fraser’s future

“The decision around if Nathan goes on loan will be purely on what we’re able to do this month. As everyone saw the other night, he’s capable of helping us in certain situations, but he is only 18. He hasn’t played loads of first-team football.

“I’m comfortable with that being for us, but also don’t want to delay Nathan’s progress if we manage to do some business and it looks like Nathan won’t get enough minutes to make sure he’s still progressing, because he has got a part of play at this football club at some point in the future and the most important thing is how we get him there.

“That might be with us for the rest of the season and that might be starting or as a sub, or we might look at the numbers and think it’s not fair to keep him, because he needs to play football and improve that way. At this moment in time, he’s the only number nine with any senior experience at the football club, so he definitely won’t be going anywhere any time soon.”