Josh Sheehan will be out to prove tonight that he is back to his best, and ready to take on League One yet again.

The Welsh maestro has been back in full training at Wanderers since the summer, his appearance in the Portuguese training camp the first since a serious knee injury sustained last season in an FA Cup game at Stockport County.

Since then his comeback has been phased slowly by manager Ian Evatt, and though fans are keen to see him back in the playmaker role he filled for a frustratingly short but nevertheless successful spell last autumn, the club has been wary of pushing him too hard and risking another spell out of the game.

Sheehan’s big chance comes tonight against Leeds United Under-21s. Having featured for an hour against Crewe, then 90 minutes at Tranmere, the 27-year-old has edged his way to the fringe of the first team and sat on the bench for the last couple of games.

Tonight, with a wide UniBol pitch as his canvass, Sheehan will get an opportunity to show Evatt that he is ready to take that final step.

“He has been that I have had to manage cautiously at because Josh being Josh, he wants to be in the team right now, and be doing things right now,” the manager explained.

“Of course, he had a lengthy spell on the side-lines, so we are having to build him gradually into the team because everyone else seems to be doing really well in those positions, so it has afforded us a little bit more time. “Do I think Josh is a really big and important player for us? Absolutely. He gives us something a bit different to all the others, but the others are doing well so there’s not a need to push and rush that we’ve had in the past.

“Keep the reigns on him. He’ll be one that will play on Tuesday, that’ll be another step forwards and we’ll see where he’s at after that game.”

Wanderers’ recent history is littered with talismanic players whose recovery from long term injury has been accelerated because of circumstance. But the club’s record in League One and the individual form of George Thomason, MJ Williams and Co has given Evatt a chance to carefully pick his moment. The lack of league goals which has proved the talking point over the last three games may now put more pressure on him to bring in one of his most creative players.

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Sheehan showed an eye for goal before his injury last season and also a knack for set piece delivery, which has been another bugbear in Bolton’s recent dry spell.

Evatt sees the Wales international returning to many of his old ways, and is excited at the prospect of giving him a run in the Papa Johns Trophy.

“I’m starting to see in training him dictate the speed and tempo of games again and that’s what he does. He has a superb range of passing. He can play short, he can play long, he can play through the lines, he can receive between lines.

“He gives us something a little bit different. He played against Tranmere, and I still felt he wasn’t quite where I wanted him and needed him to be compared to the other ones.

“However, I’ve seen a lot more positive signs the last couple of weeks and we’ll get another glimpse as to how close he is on Tuesday night.”

Until very recently, Lloyd Isgrove’s recovery from back-to-back hamstring tears had been behind that of Sheehan.

A foot problem (plantar fasciitis) similar to that suffered by captain Ricardo Santos earlier in the season had checked his progress somewhat, but with Conor Bradley suspended on Saturday at Accrington, an all-action performance for the B Team last weekend has given Evatt a timely reminder that one of his promotion heroes is getting back to his best.

“Playing the other day he got a wonderful assist and his physical data was off the chart,” the manager said. “I think he ran nearly 12km and in 90 minutes, which says he is there and ready to go, especially in that position.

“Obviously Conor has been flying for us but he has also been on four yellow cards, so Izzy has been ready to step into those shoes. It was inevitable that he’d pick up that fifth sooner rather than later, especially the amount of yellow cards that referees tend to dish out nowadays, so we’re getting Izzy ready to go and I think he’s almost there.”