ROBERTO Martinez is adamant he will not jeopardise Antolin Alcaraz’s long-term health by rushing the big defender back from injury too soon.
Alcaraz has been sidelined since the end of August after picking up a groin problem on international duty with Paraguay.
The injury was initially not thought to be too serious, but the pain did not subside – which caused a rethink among the medical staff.
Alcaraz is now not expected back until the festive programme. But Martinez insists the welfare of the player must be paramount.
“Antolin is recovering very well, and has just started a new programme we have given him,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“It’s difficult to set a return date because you’re talking about a soft-tissue problem. I’m hoping we’ll see Antolin back by mid-December – he certainly won’t be back before five weeks.
“But the most important thing is that Antolin is fully fit when he makes his comeback. We don’t want any pain or niggles when he does return.
“Antolin could have come back and been involved by now, but if the tendon wasn’t going to be allowed to regenerate fully we were leaving the door open for further problems.
“Antolin would never have been able to get back to 100% fit, and he’d always have to deal with pain to the area. That for me is the wrong way to view a player’s recovery.
“If taking an extra few weeks now means he’ll be injury-free for the rest of the season, that has to be the right decision.
“That way we know that when Antolin returns he will be fully recovered, and ready to make a massive impact, which is what I want.”