David Wheater given more time to recover
WHITES defender David Wheater has been taken out of the firing line by boss Dougie Freedman in a bid to build up his strength.
The 26-year-old has not figured for the first team since the 3-1 defeat at Brighton last month, being an unused substitute at Blackpool and Birmingham.
Wanderers have gone five matches unbeaten since the loss at the Amex Stadium, with Freedman favouring a centre-back pairing of Matt Mills and Tim Ream.
But the manager insists Wheater’s recent absence is not solely down to his form or that of other defenders in the squad.
He believes it is right to give the Redcar-born centre-back the time he needs to get back in tip-top shape. Freedman said: “We feel he’s (Wheater) not really back to where he belongs.
“He’s had to come back out of the team, to get rehabilitated in the right way.
“It is being done to get him stronger and to continue to play games, week in week out.”
Wheater, who signed a two-year extension to his contract in the summer to run until 2016, began the season in the starting line-up after recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury that sidelined him for virtually the whole of last season.
But he has struggled to rediscover the form that prompted Wanderers to fork out more than £2million for his services from Middlesbrough in January 2011.
He has played seven times this season and been on the losing side in four of those.
Freedman will hope more work away from the pitch, particularly while he has other options in defence, can reignite Wheater’s form and provide even more competition for places in the first-team.