Millwall midfielder closing in on first-team return – and summer signing also back on training pitch

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Ryan Leonard could be back in first-team training within the next two weeks – with Millwall manager Gary Rowett looking forward to adding the club-record signing to his midfield mix.

The 27-year-old suffered knee ligament damage against Leeds on October 5 and had been wearing a protective leg brace.

But Rowett said: “We’ve had quite good news with Ryan. He’s been to see a specialist and is out of his brace. He should be back on the training pitch in the next couple of weeks.

“He was out running yesterday and looking quite good in terms of how he is moving. We’re hoping that can be accelerated quite quickly – whether he is going to be playing after two weeks is a different matter. It depends how quickly he can get up to speed.

“He could still be three or four weeks away from playing in the first team but it’s good news that at least he is going to have a chance by the end of this month to be around the lads.

“It’s another body out there and he offers a different midfielder dynamic to some of the others. It’s quite nice to get someone different back into the group.”

Players seem to play less tune-up matches before coming back into the senior fold than in the past.

So why does that tend to be the case at many clubs now?

Rowett said: “I had periods out injured and it depends who your manager is – you can be back training three days and chucked in the team. Sometimes you cope alright with it.

“It depends how long you’ve been out and how fit you are, what work you’ve been able to do while you’ve been out of action.

“With technology nowadays and the way players work now when they are injured – they tend to work just as hard as when they are out on the pitch, so fitness levels tend to be maintained a little bit better perhaps.”

Goalkeeper Frank Fielding (above) is also making significant progress as he works his way back from a quad injury suffered on the opening day of the Championship campaign against Preston.

“Frank is back out on the training pitch,” said Rowett. “But when it is a kicking muscle injury like that, it’s always going to be about kicking the ball long distances which is going to be the problem – because you’re applying the most force to that area.

“But he’s outside doing little bits with LT [Lee Turner, goalkeeping coach] and us, in terms of working his feet. He’ll be doing that for quite a while yet.”

“Tom Elliott is longer term. Macca [Jason McCarthy] has had his issues, so he’s a little longer term.”

PICTURES BY BRIAN TONKS

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