Look who's back - Wheater return set to make it a fab four

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

WANDERERS have been handed a massive boost with David Wheater and Mark Davies set to join Stuart Holden and Josh Vela on the comeback trail tonight.

Holden and Vela were already pencilled in to play for the development squad against Oldham Athletic at Leyland.

But Wheater’s and Davies’s inclusion is an added bonus for boss Dougie Freedman who is hopeful the quartet will all be back in first-team contention before the end of the month.

The Whites boss even believes that if all goes well, the quartet could all be back in the mix by the time the Whites head to the Stadium of Light in a week’s time for their FA Cup third-round replay.

Speaking after the 2-2 weekend draw against the Black Cats at the Reebok Stadium, the Wanderers boss revealed the news that will undoubtedly bring a smile to the fans’ faces.

“I have got Josh Vela, David Wheater, Stuart Holden and Mark Davies, four players that could be part of the starting 11, four players that are big players for this club, that are two weeks away,” he said. “In all honesty, that extra game is good for us.

“They might play (against Sunderland). They are players that are training every day.

“They are going to play in a game on Tuesday. Possibly Mark will miss the replay but it is an extra game down the line for them.”

It was no secret that Holden and Vela were down to play in the Manchester Senior Cup tie – but the return of Davies and Wheater to the frame is a welcome bolt from the blue.

Holden has played just one competitive game since March 2011 when he was stretchered off against Manchester United at Old Trafford with a serious knee injury that has required two bouts of surgery.

Vela has been missing for four months after sustaining knee ligament damage playing against Crawley Town in the Capital One Cup in August.

Wheater suffered a cruciate ligament injury at the tail end of last season and had not been expected back in the reckoning until next month.

And Davies underwent surgery on a damaged collar bone in mid-December when he fell awkwardly in a game against Huddersfield Town and post-match scans revealed a problem.

Freedman is looking forward to welcoming the players back into his squad.

“They are four big players,” he said. “We have missed them really. We have a small squad, only 18 players, so the extra game – no disrespect to the FA Cup – is needed now.”

The return of Holden, Vela, Davies and Wheater leaves Matt Mills, Benik Afobe and Joe Riley as the only players in the treatment room.

Mills is still a few weeks away from returning from a hamstring injury, while Afobe missed the cup tie with a tight hamstring.

Riley was forced off after just 36 minutes at the weekend after a kick on the foot.

Tonight's Senior Cup game against Oldham kicks-off at 7pm.

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