Eaves making big impression on Freedman
TOM Eaves could return to Wanderers as a serious contender for a first-team place.
That's the verdict from Dougie Freedman, who is looking forward to welcoming the powerful youngster back to the Reebok next month after a spell on loan with League One Shrewsbury Town.
Eaves impressed in a spell with Bristol Rovers earlier in the season, making giant strides after some exposure to first-team football.
And though he is yet to play a senior game for Wanderers since signing from Oldham Athletic three years ago, Freedman believes his continued progress should ensure the 21-year-old will soon force the issue.
“Tom has been fantastic. I really, really like the young guy,” he said.
“When he came back after three months at Bristol Rovers, I couldn't believe how well he was training and his talent.
“He has got a long way to go in terms of understanding the game but he has a great attitude and a great hunger and desire. That's what I think these fans would like – someone who is really desperate to play here.
“Can I get him in the team right now? I can't. Certain circumstances and where we are right now make it difficult because we need to start turning these draws into wins.
“But don't hold your breath in terms of Tom coming back and playing for us because I think he's very capable.
“He's out there for a month in League One with Graham Turner, who's a great manager, and hopefully he'll come back with a few goals, look me in the eye and say he's ready.”
Freedman admits the current pressure in the Championship has prevented him from using some of his younger players but insists midfield starlet Josh Vela is very much part of his plans.
The Salford-born ball winner returned from a long-term knee injury to feature in four games during January and February but is now likely to spend a little while out of the spotlight to continue his development.
“Josh had been injured then came back into the team for three or four games,” he said.
“I played him in the FA Cup and for a few games because we were a bit short in that area but to be honest he shouldn't have been in that early.
“He has come out and he's a bit tired and low in training, and I have spoken to him this week.
“He's 19 years of age and he's got to still be developed. That's an area I'm quite proud of in my career and I'll make sure they (young players) get drip fed and introduced at the right time.
“Josh needs to train hard, work at his game, and then when the time is right he goes in again.”