DOUGIE Freedman has laid down a challenge to his fringe players to follow Marvin Sordell’s path back into his good books.

The Wanderers boss has hinted that Sordell – who scored in the FA Cup against Everton last weekend – could retain his place up front against his former club Watford at Vicarage Road tomorrow after stepping up his fitness levels in recent weeks.

Freedman does not believe his England Under-21 international will be affected by returning to his old stomping ground.

And he reckons the youngster’s attitude should be an example to those who currently find themselves on the outskirts of his first team plans.

“I don’t care for new clubs, old clubs – it happened to me the other week with Crystal Palace,” he said. “All I really care about is looking at Watford and what’s the best way to beat them, “Obviously, in the form he is in, Marvin Sordell is in contention to play from the start because he deserves it.

“It’s a lesson to any of the players around here because I am not a manager that hands out the jerseys – if you are putting in the effort in training and doing right by the club then you certainly will play.”

Freedman has worked closely to rehabilitate Sordell, who he claimed had struggled with an “addiction” to social networking site Twitter and had issues of homesickness that had affected his form and fitness on his arrival.

He has reaped the rewards, with Sordell netting four goals in his last five games, and thinks his relationship with the 21-year-old can encourage further progress.

“This is what I do best,” he said. “I work with young players and get the best out of them.

“I know I’ve only been doing it a few years but I feel that to communicate with the young players is the best way to build the trust up.

“That’s the only way you’ll go forward, with that trust element, and me and Marvin are close. He understands what I am doing and how I’m trying to improve him as a player.

“I suppose I have had to use the iron fist at times, but with the velvet glove also, because I have to make sure he knows what it is all about.

“He has got a lot fitter, more confident, and you are seeing the results now because he looks a lot better.”