7:00am Wednesday 6th February 2013
By Marc Iles
MARK Davies has been given the all-clear to make a return to the Wanderers squad in time for this weekend’s clash with Burnley.
The midfielder, who has been sidelined since early December, is now back in full training and could even be considered for a starting berth in the Lancashire derby.
Dougie Freedman had hinted Davies could hit the ground running once he was cleared to return after shoulder surgery – and his condition was such that he was not included in a secret friendly played against the Bailey Academy at Euxton yesterday.
Stuart Holden, pictured, and David Wheater did feature, with Holden coming through his first 90 minutes since returning from long-term injury.
Davies’ return certainly offers Dougie Freedman food for thought as he looks to turn a round recent fortunes.
The 24-year-old was in top form before damaging his shoulder ligaments against Huddersfield Town in early December. But the fleet-footed playmaker is confident he can pick up where he left off and provide Freedman with a range of midfield options alongside Darren Pratley, Jay Spearing, Josh Vela, Keith Andrews and new signing Medo Kamara. “I am progressing well and because of the nature of the injury, I have been able to get back to fitness work quite quickly, so I have been able to keep on track with that,” he said.
“Obviously there’s a difference between match fitness and match sharpness but, hopefully, I won’t be too much off the pace when I come back.
“It’s always frustrating when you are injured because you want to be out there playing your part. “But the manager has been great with me and I have been well looked after by the medical staff.
“There’s real competition for places.
Prats and Jay have been doing well and Josh has come in and shown his quality, while Medo joined us in the transfer window and, of course, we have Keith who’s out injured at the moment, and Stuart is coming through too, so we have a real fight on to get in the team. My target is to get back as soon as I can.”
The fact Freedman could call on Davies this weekend is a fillip for Wanderers, who hover just three points above the bottom three.
And though the consensus in the camp is still that the Whites should be looking up, and not down, a positive result against the Clarets should go some way to easing fears.
Davies’ return would add mobility and bite to a midfield that has looked a little static in recent weeks.
The former Wolves man, who is in the process of agreeing an extended deal at the Reebok, was back in full training with the first-team squad on Monday.
He has been able to continue running despite the injury and the hope is he will be able to go straight into the reckoning.
Holden staked his claim further, coming through the full game against Bailey’s – who are a team made up of young players from all over the country looking to secure professional contracts.
Freedman has used Holden sparingly since his return from long-term injury, but hopes the midfielder would complete 90 minutes against Manchester City for the development squad last Friday were hampered when he limped off following a heavy challenge.
The damage was only superficial and after yesterday’s runout he could again be used off the bench this weekend.
With changes likely on Saturday, there could also be a full debut for winger Steve de Ridder – who impressed with a late cameo at Watford – and for Medo.
The midfielder, signed on deadline day from FK Partizan, did not play yesterday and has not been in action since the Serbian league went into a three-month winter break at the start of December.
Craig Dawson is another player who could come into the equation, having been an unused substitute at Watford.
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