CRAIG Davies has been told he is a part of the first-team plan at Wanderers – just as long as he stays fit.

The Wales international striker has become a popular figure on the terraces since his arrival from Barnsley nearly a year ago but has yet to consistently command a place in Dougie Freedman’s starting line-up.

Part of the striker’s problem, explained the Wanderers boss, has been a series of niggling injuries that have set him back.

But Freedman has rejected claims that he could be loaned elsewhere or sold on and has tipped the 27-year-old to progress now that he has settled into life at the Reebok.

“I bought him, I like him, he just needs to make sure that he’s on top of his game,” said the Whites boss.

“He needs to know at a club this size that I need to have four or five strikers – he can’t just be the big fish in the small bowl; we’re a big bowl here. Everyone has got to contribute and I think he’s understanding that now.

“When he is fully fit, yes, he’s very close.”

Davies played in a behind-closed-doors game against Carlisle United this week in an effort to get some match sharpness ahead of today’s game at Bournemouth.

But he has made just one Championship start this season – in the 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest – and his most recent outing was off the bench in the 2-1 win over Birmingham City.

He has been regularly linked with moves elsewhere over the last six months but Freedman insists that fitness problems are the only obstacle preventing him from commanding a more regular place in the team.

“It you really want to get down to the nitty gritty – he just hasn’t been fit,” he said. “He’s been half-fit against Birmingham and it’s just his injuries that are to blame.

“He did pre-season and I thought ‘here we go, this isn’t a bad player here’ and then bang, five weeks, right in the period where we need him.

“Now he’s back to the stage where he’s getting fitter and against certain opposition he’s such a handful in this division.”