When Doncaster Rovers' long term injury victims are slated to return to action
Gary McSheffrey believes his Doncaster Rovers squad could be one of the strongest in League One for the final few weeks of the season.
Rovers should have all their injured players back for the final six weeks of the campaign and have a greater depth of options than they have enjoyed throughout this season.
But McSheffrey insists those players available now must ensure Rovers are in position to make their strength count in their last few games, and not be cut adrift in the relegation fight.
“Come the middle to the end of March, the last ten games or so, we could have one of the strongest squads in the division, comfortably,” he told the Free Press.
“If we get six or seven back, along with a couple of the targets we want to get in and along with the current squad that are fit, we could finish the season strong.
“But we can’t get too far adrift.
“We just need to get on with it, win as many games as we can, try to be difficult to beat and get some good draws in tough away games with a good structure. Get the attackers scoring goals, get the confidence up.
“If we do get that and then we can see the light at the end of the tunnel for some of those injured boys that are going to come and really help us out in those last ten games, we need to be in a position to make it count.”
Jon Taylor last week underwent a third round of surgery on the ankle injury he suffered last March and is expected to be available again in the middle of March this year.
“It’s a ten to 12 rehab period for Jon,” McSheffrey said. “There was a shaving of the bone to stop it impinging on the nerve.
“We’ll be in regular contact with Jon and we’ll get him back as fit as we can so when he’s back he’s staying back, and in good form.
“Hopefully he can be a bit of a spark come the end of the season.”
Fejiri Okenabirhie has been cleared to remove his protective ankle boot as he continues his recovery from a long term Achilles injury that has denied him any game time this season.
McSheffrey said: “Fej’s return to training with the group is pencilled in for early to mid March.
“He’s going to take a few weeks after that to get up to speed so he might be able to come in and make an impact for six, eight, ten games.
“I’d like to say he could feature.”
John Bostock has upped the intensity of his rehabilitation work after undergoing surgery on ankle ligament damage suffered in November.
McSheffrey said: “He’s had the required rest and he says he feels good walking about without a problem.
“He had a pot for a couple of weeks and then a boot but that’s all off now and he can crack on
“He’ll probably be back a week or two before Fej.”
Cameron John is awaiting the results of a scan on his back to discover whether the stress fracture to his spine has healed.
“If it has healed he could be looking to be back in training the second week in February,” McSheffrey said.
“But it’s how Cameron's body heals and how he feels. I’m not going to force him to play. He’s got to feel good and want to play so it’s down to how he heals.”
Skipper Tom Anderson continues to wear a protective boot as he looks to ease the strain on a plantar fascia injury in his foot which will see him out of action for the rest of the month at least.
McSheffrey said: “We were hoping it wasn’t going to be as bad as when he had it at the start of the season but it is worse. Pain-wise it’s not as bad but the injury on the scan is worse.
“Tom won’t feature in January but we hope he’ll be in position to go in mid-to-late February.”
Ben Close will remain sidelined for the rest of the month as he continues to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered two months ago.
“Every time he tries to up it a bit there’s still some irritation,” McSheffrey said.
“He might need another ultrasound-guided injection in the area to ease it up.”
Dan Gardner strained his quad during his return to action against Morecambe last week and will miss the rest of January.