Graham Barrow believes Alex Gilbey could have a big part to play in the relegation run-in for Wigan Athletic.
Gilbey joined Latics last summer from Colchester but, after a sparkling start to his career up north, was cut down by a serious ankle injury in September.
He returned to the fold last month and, with the added benefit of an international break to work on his fitness, he’s raring to go for the last eight games that will decide Wigan’s fate.
“It’s obviously great to have Alex back in the squad after so long,” acknowledged Barrow.
“Obviously he was a bit rusty when he first came back, which was always going to be the case.
“But he’s shown his quality, and you can never have too many good players in the squad. He can also score a goal - and that’s an asset no matter what level you’re playing at.”
Barrow, meanwhile, was using the international break to touch base with West Ham with a view to the returns of Reece Burke and Marcus Browne.
Defender Burke, on a season-long loan from the Hammers, hasn’t kicked a ball since the defeat at Villa in December because of a hip injury.
“I believe Reece did some training with West Ham the other day, he joined in the warm-up before the game, so he’s obviously near playing football,” revealed Barrow.
“That would be a big boost obviously, and the international break’s given us chance to have a look at that, and get an update on him.”
Browne joined on loan in January, but his only action was a second-half cameo off the bench in the FA Cup loss at Manchester United shortly after his arrival.
“Marcus is still coming back from injury, but I told him we like wingers, and he’s obviously a talented young boy.
“He’s not had an easy time here, but we know he is a talented lad.”