GETHIN Jones says the return of some familiar faces to the training ground could give Wanderers the promotion push they need for the final seven games.

Dion Charles has stepped up his recovery from a knee injury during his time with the Northern Ireland squad and though he did not feature in either friendly, footage of him training has raised hopes that he is ready to make some sort of return at Stevenage on Good Friday.

Defender George Johnston has re-joined the training group after long-term absence and has not ruled out playing before the end of the campaign.

And Ian Evatt is expected to confirm today where goalkeeper Nathan Baxter stands on his own long-awaited return following a wrist injury, with positive noises coming out of the camp over the last few days.

Jones, who will fly back from Australia today having been with the Socceroos for their World Cup qualifier against Lebanon, says the boost of having key men back in the squad could be pivotal in the push for a top two spot.

“Getting them back, not just for games but around the training ground every single day, it will be huge for us,” he told The Bolton News.

“They are massive players to be missing – and when we have seen Dion back on the grass doing little bits it has given us a boost. We know there is another top player coming back.

“Once we are all back and focussed on the run-in, I think it is a perfect lift for us. I can’t wait.”

Jones is one of five players who have been away on international duty but the remaining squad have been able to work in more detail than at any time since the turn of the year with Evatt and his coaching staff.

“For the last nine weeks it has been play, recover, play, recover, and there hasn’t been any time to train as you’d normally do,” said the vice-captain. “There have been lots of meetings, lots of video sessions, lots of information and talking, but the time on the grass hasn’t been there, so I know the lads are really looking forward to that.

“We have to stick together. It has been really difficult and with the injuries we have had as well, it hasn’t helped.

“But the boys have been brilliant, they have stuck at it. We can come back for those seven games now and really go for it.”

The return of Johnston to the fold has also been a big morale booster for the squad.

Injured in the first pre-season friendly at Bamber Bridge in July, the former Liverpool man underwent knee surgery but has since come through his rehabilitation with flying colours.

Jones said: “We all know how big a player George Johnston is for us, and he has started training again, back on the grass, and he does feel like a new signing. I am made up to see him back because he is a top player.

“Hopefully after the break we can get a couple more bodies back and just give us that little boost.

“It was a massive shock when it happened for him because he is a big part of the team, a big part of the club in his own way. He’s a very different guy – he’s hilarious – but it honestly is amazing to see him back.

“It is the same with Dion. You need your best players and this has been a tough season with injuries, I think we have eight out at the moment, but hopefully we can get a few back and then really have a go for it.”