The roads to recovery for forgotten centre half David Mirfin continues to be a long-testing one.
The veteran has now been out for a year with his knee injury and overcome an operation that saw him have to learn how to walk again.
There was optimism that he might be back for Christmas at one time, but now even Easter looks a push with him not ready for a match return as yet and needing a full ‘pre-season’ before he can be considered for first team duty.
“With such a long injury lay-off it was always going to be a steady road back and a progression,” said boss David Flitcroft.
“He has been training with us now for three weeks and is steadily getting better and improving. It’s not an injury we are going to rush at this stage. It’s really important we get everything right with it.
“He has had a couple of set-backs but we have worked through them. It’s just about time.”
Flitcroft added: “I had probably hoped we’d be arranging a game for him over the last couple of weeks, but we’ve not been able to. He is not at that stage yet.
“His mental strength is as solid as I have seen in any player. He has had an unbreakable spirit about what he’s done.
“He is definitely at the end stage, but he will probably need eight fluent games where he is at a consistent level before we even think about having in the first team squad.
“That is going to be the difficult bit.
“When a player has a six week lay-off in the summer he will play between six and eight games of a pre-season programme and it will be no different for Mirf.”