Midfielder John O’Sullivan took the first big step towards putting a frustrating five-month period behind him when he came off the bench to play 25 minutes in Wednesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy group game against Fleetwood Town.
Speaking about the return of the popular wide man after the game, manager Keith Curle said: “It’s very good for us to have him available again. That pitch time for him was the next step in his rehabilitation.
“He’s been desperate to play competitive football. He’s been through a lot of training behind the scenes with Lee Fearn and Neil Dalton, but I think we’ve calculated that he’s on his sixth day back compared to a normal pre-season schedule.
“That tells you how much work he’s missed. His pre-season was a bit stop-start anyway, because of the injury, so what he does from here is going to be vitally important for him this year.”
“We’re having to get the balancing act right in terms of when to work him and when to rest him, so that we get the robustness he will need to be competitive on a Saturday and a Tuesday, if he gets in the team,” he continued.
“Likewise, we’re having to be slightly protective because we know his heart rate and the energy he’s expelling when he’s working to keep up with the lads in training is pushing him to the limits.
“We need to get that right, bearing in mind that to play how we want him to play he needs to be in very good physical condition. Mentally, he’s accepting the challenge, he’s prepared to work and he’s working very well.
“He’s at the point where the next stage of his progression is more game time. He’s doing extra physical conditioning with the medical staff and he’s also taking part in extra training sessions.
“He needs to continue to build that up so he can withstand the rigours of training and playing, because he’s a player who we feel will add a lot of different attributes and skill sets to the squad.”
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