SAM Ricketts is poised to step up his return to first team action after the weekend.

Nearly nine months after he was put out of action with a ruptured Achilles in an FA Cup tie at Wigan, the Wales international is pencilled-in to train alongside his team-mates for the first time early this week.

Ricketts has already abandoned two comeback attempts to make sure his return is a permanent one, and has sought the specialist advice of UK Athletics to minimise the risk of secondary injuries developing.

The 30-year-old is pleased with his progress and is keeping his fingers crossed that he could now feature for John Henry’s reserve team within the next fortnight.

“Everything seems to be going according to plan at the moment,” he said. “Hopefully that can continue to be the case with the increasing workload.

“I’m not too sure how quickly I will be able to start playing reserve matches, but hopefully within the next two weeks I will be able to get a short run out, even if it is just for 30 minutes or so.

“It’s all about building it up to get that all elusive match fitness.

Owen Coyle’s side return on Monday to start preparations for next weekend’s trip to West Brom, where they will be looking to continue the forward momentum gained after the 5-0 victory over Stoke.

But for Ricketts, the opportunity to strike a ball again at Euxton will be a significant step in itself.

“In anger, I suppose it will be the first time I have kicked a ball in over eight months, although I have done some ball work in the one-to-one sessions with the physios.

“I’ve had time to reflect on everything in that time and I’ve watched plenty of live football.

“Obviously, I’ve been at all of Bolton’s games but I’ve taken the opportunity to watch other teams play too.

“I want to make sure that when I am back to full fitness that I come back a better player than I was before I sustained the injury.”