Light at the end of the tunnel for Wigan Athletic over Charlie Wyke
The return of Charlie Wyke will be as good as a new signing for Wigan Athletic.
That's the view of boss Kolo Toure, who hasn't had the luxury of having the striker available for selection since taking over in November.
Wyke's last run-out came in the 2-1 victory over Blackpool on November 12 - when Rob Kelly took charge, shortly after the sacking of Leam Richardson.
A knee problem has proved difficult to shake off but, while reluctant to put a timescale on it, Toure can see light at the end of the tunnel at last.
"Charlie is progressing very well," he said.
"We have to keep assessing him every day, to see how he is feeling.
"But I can see he has a smile on his face at the moment, which is very important.
"We are thinking he is on the right track, and we'll all be happy when he comes back."
When asked about the nature of the problem, Toure revealed: "Charlie's problem is with his knee.
"He was doing specific work with the physios, and I remember seeing he felt a little something with that.
"That's why we have to be careful with him, and why we are assessing him on a daily basis.
"When he's ready to come back, we want to make sure he's in the best shape possible to stay with us.
"There's no point taking any risks with him, and then he comes back and is immediately ruled out for another period of time.
"We don't want that, we want to ensure that when he does come back, he comes back fully fit and ready to play a run of games."
When asked whether Wyke's return would be as much of a boost as a new signing, Toure replied: "Absolutely, and we are all looking forward to having Charlie available for selection.
"He's a great guy as well as a big player who can score goals, and is great in the air.
"I'm definitely looking forward to having the chance to work with him."
Toure also provided an update on defender Tom Pearce, who pulled up lame during an Under-23s game at the end of October.
"He's progressing very well," reported the Latics boss.
"He's been outside on the grass with the fitness coach, which is very good to see.
"That means he is on the right track, and he should be back sooner rather than later."
Pearce has been restricted to one start this term – in the Carabao Cup at Fleetwood back in August.
His only league appearance came as an 89th-minute substitute on the opening day of the campaign against Preston.
Meanwhile, there's also concern over Callum Lang and Joe Bennett, who were substituted during the midweek FA Cup defeat at the hands of Luton.
"Both had to come off and we are assessing both," added Toure.
"I will speak to the medical guys but fingers crossed it's nothing serious."
Centre-back Jason Kerr is out for the rest of the campaign with a serious knee injury picked up at Swansea in early November.