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Kieran Given Plenty Lee-Way

No rush to bring midfielder back as boss weights up fitness issues

4 April 2022

Kieran Lee won’t be rushed back into action as Wanderers run a number of fitness checks ahead of Tuesday night’s visit of Portsmouth.

Lee hasn’t figured since the Whites’ win at Oxford United in mid-February due to a heel problem.

The attacking midfielder has since undergone successful surgery but will be given more time to make a full recovery with just six games to go this season.

“We had him scanned again last week and there’s nothing sinister going on there,” confirmed manager Ian Evatt.

Kieran Lee run.jpg

“It seems like it’s healing well. There’s just a little bit of soreness around the incision from the opposition when he puts his boots on.

“We’ll give him a bit more time. We want to get him back in one piece and 100 per cent and raring to go.”

Lee therefore misses Tuesday night's game against Pompey – as well as a reunion with former club Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Declan John is also struggling with the back issue that kept the wing-back out of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Wigan, where Kyle Dempsey and Dapo Afolayan also picked up knocks.

“They will be doubtful for tomorrow but again it emphasises the size of the squad and hopefully people can come in and take their place,” added Evatt.

Wanderers’ squad strength was again on show at Wigan, where Jon Dadi Bodvarsson came off the bench to head a late leveller as the Whites extended their unbeaten away run to three games.

That followed a last-gasp equaliser the Icelander scored as a substitute against Morecambe and 'super-sub' Amadou Bakayoko’s last-minute winner at Crewe last month.

Bodvarsson Bakayoko celebration.jpg

“It’s huge for me to look behind me and see some really good players ready to come on and make an impact,” said Evatt.

“On Saturday, our players who came off the bench really did make that impact.

“People want to start games and when they come off the bench they’ve got to make sure they play well because we’ve got a squad full of talent who are ready to play.

“But I’ve been really pleased with everyone’s attitude and the impact the bench has made in recent weeks.”

No-one in League One has scored more goals in the last 15 minutes of games than Wanderers, who have netted 21 times from the 76th-minute onwards.

And Evatt believes that’s a fitting reward for his side’s approach as they look to move back into the top 10 with victory over Pompey.

“It’s not a coincidence. When we’ve scored so many goals in the last 10-15 minutes it’s because we wear the opposition out,” added the Whites’ boss.

“Teams can’t press the ball for 90 minutes, especially if we have controlled possession.

“It shows when we are at it we can really cause teams problems and ask them questions.

“In turn they fatigue and in the last 10-15 minutes we can take advantage.”


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