"I was shocked when I was told at our pre-match meeting that I was starting," says the returning midfielder
Josh Vela expressed his delight after playing 74 minutes on his return to Wanderers’ first team during the Whites’ FA Cup third round victory against Sunderland.
The 19-year-old has been on the sidelines for the last five months recovering from a knee injury, but return to competitive action last week in the development squad’s 3-0 victory over Oldham.
The midfielder was delighted to play his part in the Trotters’ 2-0 win over their Premier League opponents on Tuesday evening, and he now hopes to forge his way into Dougie Freedman’s league side as the side prepares for Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
“I was shocked when I was told at our pre-match meeting that I was starting,” Vela said speaking after the game. “I was really excited and just ready to get out there and play, and hopefully I have repaid the manager’s faith he had in me.
“It has been a difficult few months, but I have been able to get my leg strength up and get back into training. I played a reserve game last week and I managed to start tonight which is my first start in five months and I am really happy to be back playing in the team.
“Hopefully I can now keep my head down, continue to work hard on the training ground and work my way into the league side. We have got a recovery day tomorrow then back to training and hopefully I can get a start on Saturday against Crystal Palace.
“It may be a bit too soon for me to play two games in a week, but hopefully I can be involved on Saturday. It is going to be a hard game at Selhurst Park but we managed to win tonight and that can show that we can beat anyone really and it should give us confidence after beating a Premier League team.”