DOUGIE Freedman believes the time is right for Josh Vela to live up to his billing as Wanderers’ brightest home-grown product.

Nearly four months on from his solitary appearance of the season against Tranmere Rovers in the Capital One Cup, the Academy graduate is now pushing for a recall after returning to full fitness.

Vela has been on the fringes of the senior team since making his debut in the Premier League against Swansea in April last year but his progress has been continually checked by injury problems.

Freedman has delivered a frank assessment of the Salford-born youngster – revealing he the 20-year-old that his talent could go to waste unless he got his fitness right.

But after a spell out of the limelight, the Wanderers boss now feels Vela is in good shape to push on.

“I was told when I came that he is a really exciting player but I’ve told him straight that I don’t think he’s fulfilled his potential,” he told The Bolton News.

“We’ve taken him out of the firing line, individualised his training programme, which now suits Josh, and going off what I saw against Liverpool (in the reserves) the other day I now see a young player who has got that potential everyone was talking about.”

Vela broke into the senior ranks under Freedman’s predecessor Owen Coyle along with full-back Joe Riley. Both have suffered bad fortune on the injury front but Vela – subject to a £1million bid from Liverpool before he had kicked a ball in the Premier League for the Whites – has been able to go back to basics with the club’s medical staff this year to solve his problems for good.

“I’ve no idea whether Liverpool came in, I’ve never really been told, but since I have been here I don’t think I have ever seen Josh string a good number of games together or completely see that potential,” he added. “I have seen it in glimpses and my experience with younger players is to try and get that consistency.

“Josh Vela’s problem is that he couldn’t play at a consistent level, and that has been the real issue with me.

“We pulled him out of the firing line and I think he looks in really good physical shape now, so he’s another one over the Christmas period who could possibly feature.”