UWE Rosler believes it will be worth the wait when Shaun Maloney finally pulls on a Wigan Athletic shirt again.
The Scotland star has been sidelined for the best part of six months, having not kicked a ball in anger since the away game at Leicester back in mid-September.
Maloney has missed a jaw-dropping 36 matches – including the entire Europa League campaign – after aggravating a hip injury on international duty.
Having scored three times in the opening five games of the campaign, it cannot be underestimated how much Latics have missed the man who swept the board at last year’s Player-of-the-Year awards.
However, with Maloney nearing a return to full fitness after intense recuperation both at home and in Colorado, Rosler will resist the temptation to fast-track him back into the fold.
“I will not be putting any pressure on Shaun, because of the length of time he has already been out,” Rosler told the Evening Post.
“It’s very important that we build him up the right way, and his rehabilitation is allowed to run accordingly.
“In terms of him returning to the team, he must be fully fit in order for him to be the player we know he can be and want him to be. That will take time.
“If he is able to do it faster than we expect, well that is a bonus. But we will not be cutting any corners. That would not be the right thing for the player. It has to be spot on.”
Maloney is naturally champing at the bit to help Latics in to the play-offs and hopefully beyond.
But Rosler believes the final stage of his rehabilitation is of vital importance if the former Celtic star is to return as good as new.
“It’s very important we manage the situation properly, because obviously the player will always want to get back as soon as possible,” the Wigan boss added.
“What you need to do is make the player aware of where he is and the consequences of maybe coming back too early.
“He needs to understand that when you’ve been out for a while, you need time to get back to the same level as you were at before the injury.
“It’s important that everything is done right, because the expectation from everyone – the player himself, me, the rest of the team and the fans – will be enormous for a player like Shaun.
“We need to make sure when he does return he is able to fulfil all the expectation that will be placed on him.”
Latics will also be without Nick Powell and Callum McManaman for tomorrow’s trip to Nottingham Forest, with the visitors knowing a win could take them into the top six.
“Nick and Callum are not yet back with the group,” Rosler said. “But we are hopeful they will be back before long.”