Ian Evatt is looking to Carlos Mendes Gomes to play a big part in Wanderers’ promotion push after welcoming the summer signing back into the fold, writes Pete Oliver.
Mendes Gomes has been absent on international duty since Christmas, making three appearances for Guinea-Bissau in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Their exit at the group stage of the competition in the Ivory Coast meant an early return for the former Luton Town and Morecambe forward.
And following an injury-hit start to his Whites’ career, Mendes Gomes now has the chance to make his mark with 20 games to go in Wanderers’ League One campaign and an EFL Trophy quarter-final to come at Blackpool next Tuesday night.
“We are excited to have him back,” said Evatt. “Carlos is a different type of player to what we have. He is a ball carrier, a dribbler who can provide moments of magic.
“He has had a disrupted start, there's no denying that. He came in and was starting to get up to speed when the injury happened and then, with us knowing he was going away to the Africa Cup of Nations, it's been hard to integrate him fully back into the team.
“But I think he has a huge part to play and now, for Carlos, it has to be now. The time is now for him to really step up and show everybody what he can do.”
The welcome return of Mendes Gomes - whose two goals so far for Wanderers have come in the Trophy - in time for Saturday’s trip to Carlisle United comes on the back of news that Randell Williams is facing up to six or seven weeks out with a hamstring injury.
The wing-back sustained the problem late in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Cheltenham Town as Wanderers climbed back to third place in the table, although, thankfully, fears that former Carlisle skipper Kyle Dempsey may also have picked up a knock have been allayed.
“It's awful news with Randell, really, and I’m disappointed for him,” added Evatt. “Everyone else has recovered fine. Kyle thought he might have injured his hamstring on Tuesday, but it wasn't that. I’m pleased that everyone else is OK, but obviously very disappointed with the Randell situation.”
With Gethin Jones still away with Australia in the last-16 of the Asian Cup and George Thomason about to start a two-match league ban, Wanderers are short of bodies.
But Evatt is optimistic about a positive end to the January transfer window with the first of a few potential arrivals being targeted ahead of the trip to Brunton Park when Wanderers could go top of the table if they can secure a sixth win in seven league games.
“We're hopeful we'll have one in by Saturday and then there are irons in the fire,” the boss told Wanderers TV. “We are confident we can get the business done we feel we need to do.
“It's exciting and I'm looking forward to getting some new players integrated into the squad to help us achieve our target and goal.
“We're really comfortable with what we're doing and really comfortable with what we've got and hopefully by the end of the window we'll be a lot stronger than we were at the start.”