MANAGER Dougie Freedman believes Mark Davies can provide that missing spark when he returns to the Wanderers side this week.

The 26-year-old is yet to figure this season because of a fractured toe that hampered him in pre-season.

Freedman is not expecting him to make an appearance at Brighton tomorrow, but is hoping he could return for Tuesday’s Capital One Cup second round clash at Crewe.

And the boss cannot wait to have the influential midfielder back available for selection after stressing his importance to the side in the build-up to the new campaign.

While his search for attacking reinforcements goes on, the Scot concedes not having the creativity of Davies at his disposal has been a blow.

Davies also missed chunks of last season through injury and Freedman admits it has been a source of frustration.

He told The Bolton News: “I think Mark Davies is a bit special, particularly when it comes to the attacking side of his game.

“He gives you something different.

“In tight games, like last weekend against (Nottingham) Forest somebody like him can be the difference.

“Hopefully, we can get him involved next week.

“He is earmarked for a return around the Crewe game next week hopefully.”

Since signing for the Whites in January 2009 from Wolves, Davies has made just over 100 starts in all competitions with a succession of injury problems stopping him from being a regular contributor.

In five full seasons as a Wanderer to date, Davies has only made more than 25 league appearances in one campaign (2011/12).

Lengthy spells out due to a shoulder injury (December 2012), and a cruciate knee ligament problem (February 2013) have meant Freedman has only been able to pick the midfielder to start 24 times in the 92 games he has taken charge of since his appopintment in October 2012 – only a quarter of those matches.

The latest injury, while not a serious one, has led to the former England youth international revisiting the treatment room.

And Freedman says while it is healing, the nature of the injury has meant rest as the only cure. The Whites boss added: “It is one of those injuries where you can’t do anything with it.

“To be fair to Mark he tried through pre-season and had injections to play.

“We gave him the injections but it wasn’t healing so we felt we had to bite the bullet and take it on the chin.

“We just thought we would try and get him a good three or four weeks’ rest.

“He has tried running on it a few times but is still a bit sore.

“It is healing now but slowly and you cannot really put a definitive timescale on it but hopefully he can be in with a chance over the next few days.”