Lee Trundle has been given the nod to resume training as he looks to get his Preston North End career off to a belated start.
The 36-year-old striker will start full training in just over a week’s time, stepping up his comeback from summer knee surgery.
North End boss Graham Westley is looking forward to having the former Swansea front man available again, and predicts him having an important role to play as the campaign progresses.
Trundle needed an operation to stitch his knee cartilage after being felled by a late tackle in July’s pre-season friendly at Morecambe.
That was only his third appearance in a PNE shirt after joining the club initially on trial, which in turn led to a 12-month contract.
Westley said: “Lee saw the specialist on Wednesday and has been given the all-clear to start training in a few days’ time.
“People might say it’s been frustrating to have been without him but I try to look at it a bit differently.
“You have to think what you might get out of Trundle.
“When we signed him, I thought I might get 20 starts out of him over the season and that I would have to use him sparingly because of his age.
“Instead of having got five or 10 starts under his belt already, we’ll have to get all those starts out of him between December and May.
“He might be ready to score some really important goals for us as time goes by.”
Westley doesn’t regard Trundle’s veteran status as an issue, believing his hold-up play and strength will be a welcome addition.
“Lee was never a player who relied on his speed,” said Westley.
“Strength was always the primary asset of his game and he’s probably got stronger.
“He has the ability to do unbelievable things, he’s a wizard and there were things he did on the training pitch which made you think, ‘Wow’.
“You always know there is a goal in him and he will be a big player for us, not one who defenders are going to enjoy playing against.
“When we have a player who you can give the ball to and it sticks, that enables the whole team to move up the field.
“We’ve seen that in recent games with Jack King playing up front or just off the front.
“He’s held the ball up, which has enabled the team to get up the pitch and put the opposition on the back foot.”
Another player who is just ahead of Trundle on the comeback trail is Lee Holmes.
He has been back training for just over a week and featured in the midweek friendly against Blackpool.
Westley says it is a case of the winger now going through a mini pre-season to get his fitness levels up.
“When you think Lee has been out for two months, that’s the equivalent of a close season,” he said.
“With us being in the season, we are pushing Lee in the hope of having him back that little bit quicker.
“You almost have to put a pre-season into his body.
“He’s at a level where I could use him from the bench against Yeovil in the FA Cup today but I won’t – we’ll get more work into him.”