Wigan Athletic are hoping Shaun MacDonald’s long-awaited return will be ‘sooner, rather than later.’
But first team coach Anthony Barry says his team are still not sure on an exact timeframe.
The Welshman has been sidelined since last April after suffering a broken leg against Reading, and was hit with a setback in January after being named on the bench for the FA Cup clash with his former club Bournemouth.
But MacDonald’s recovery has been back on track lately.
Having played in a development squad game last week, fans have been hoping the midfielder will soon be fit enough to join the push for promotion back to the Championship, but Barry warned there is still a little way to go before he returns to the fold.
“It’s tough to judge,” said Barry when asked for a timeframe.
“When you come back from these types of injuries it’s not only fitness. You’re looking for form and confidence. When lads get injured they also get injured upstairs because they struggle to get back involved in the challenges and stuff like that.
“Shaun’s still got a little bit of a way to go, but he’s working really well and hopefully he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”
Barry did reveal though that MacDonald’s appearance for the development squad went without any problems, and admits his absence is still felt, despite the 11-month wait to see him back in first-team action.
“It’s fantastic for Shaun,” the coach said on MacDonald’s run-out.
“He had a setback not too long ago, about six weeks ago.
“It was a tough blow for us and for Shaun. He’s a massive miss for us. He’s a great player, fantastic to have around the place, so it’s nice for him to get back on the pitch.
“He hit all the scores we wanted him to with his running and his distance so it was a massive landmark day for Shaun on his recovery.”
One certainty is MacDonald won’t be in the squad for this afternoon’s trip to Bury.
Latics can go top with a win at Gigg Lane if other results go their way, but they will be missing captain Sam Morsy who is away on international duty. But Barry revealed Latics have no other concerns over player availability.
“Everyone’s fit, everyone’s raring to go,” he said.
“Training has been very light in-between games. It’s all about rest and recuperation, just going getting ready for the next game.”
Bury boss Ryan Lowe is set to welcome Neil Danns back into his starting line-up as they look for a first win in four in their fight to climb off the bottom of the table.
But Barry says it would be foolish for anyone to judge The Shakers on their league position.
“They have a lot of players other clubs would like to have in their ranks,” he said.
“So they are in a position where you think, ‘should they really be there?’ Possibly not.”
Kick off at Gigg Lane today is at 3pm.