GRANT Holt will today take another significant step towards a Wigan Athletic first-team return after nine months out with cruciate ligament damage.
The 34-year-old is aiming to play at least half of this afternoon’s Development Squad clash against local rivals Bolton Wanderers at the Robin Park Arena (2pm).
The intensity of a match, compared to training, does go up a lot, and you have to build it up slowlyGary Caldwell
Having successfully negotiated half-an-hour in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week, it’s another encouraging step in the right direction for the veteran striker.
Holt’s days at the DW looked numbered this time last year when he was left off the official team photograph shortly before being loaned out to Huddersfield.
Any chance of a new start after Uwe Rosler was replaced by Malky Mackay was quickly destroyed when he sustained serious knee damage in his last game on loan with the Terriers midway through last term.
The last nine months have been one long, hard slog for the former Norwich man.
But boss Gary Caldwell, who has spent a considerable amount of time in the treatment room alongside Holt, believes the big man is far from finished.
“Grant’s been training well with us, and he’ll keep pushing on with his recovery in the cup game on Thursday,” Caldwell told the Evening Post.
“We’re looking at building up his game time now.
“The intensity of a match, compared to training, does go up a lot, and you have to build it up slowly.
“We’re always monitoring his strength and other things, and ensuring he’s getting better in all areas.
“The physios and the fitness coaches deal with all that.
“They know more than anyone what’s going on, I’ll leave all that to them and they’ll control it.”
Having seen first-hand Holt’s work behind the scenes in the treatment room and on the training pitch, Caldwell wants to make sure the final part of the recovery goes according to plan.
“He’s worked hard, really hard, to get back to where he is now,” Caldwell added.
“And he’s got to keep working hard now he’s nearly there.
“Even when you’re back in training, you have to continue with the strength. It’s an injury, the cruciate, where the thigh and the muscles around the knee are so important.
“He has to continue with all that to make sure his knee is so strong and up to playing a number of games.”
The Latics Devlopment Squad have been handed a tough trip to Burnley in the opening round of the Under-21 Premier League Cup on Monday, September 28 (7pm).