Dougie Freedman has confirmed that long-term absentees Stuart Holden and Josh Vela will be in the squad for Tuesday night’s FA Cup third round replay at Sunderland.
Holden made a 65 minute appearance for the development squad last week along with Vela, who was an unused substitute in the weekend's draw against Millwall.
Freedman is looking forward to the two players returning but also stressed the importance on not rushing Holden’s comeback to the first team.
Speaking in Monday’s press conference, the manager said: “Josh and Stuart will be involved tomorrow night. I don’t know if they’ll play but they’ll be in the squad. I think the two have proved their fitness in the last three or four weeks.
“It’s very difficult for Stuart in particular. We’ve got to be very careful. With Josh it’s a little bit easier as he’s only had three or four months out. They’re two good players to have around the squad again.”
The American’s return is a delight for the manager who paid tribute to his positivity throughout injury.
He said: “I must pay credit to him and the mental strength he’s shown and also to the way he handles himself around the place. Josh Vela’s been out injured and Stuart’s pretty much taken him under his wing and helped him through injury.
“He’s a fantastic lad to have around the place and he’s been fantastic in training. He’s got one more hurdle to go – to get in the team – and he deserves it.”
Freedman believes his side have a chance of progressing to the fourth round if they play as they did at the Reebok.
“I felt we played very well for 70 minutes against a Premier League side and we were 2-0 up. I feel that we possibly deserved to win the game.”
He added: “We go up there full of confidence, knowing that if can we produce what we produced at home then we’ve got a chance of winning this game.”
New signing Craig Davies will not be available until the weekend and David Wheater and Mark Davies remain sidelined.