Goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski has returned to full training this week, following a spell on the sidelines.
This leaves caretaker boss Chris Kiwomya with a difficult decision to make ahead of this weekend’s encounter with Walsall, due to the form of 18-year-old goalkeeper Fabian Spiess.
Bialkowski suffered a nasty head injury in the 2-1 loss to Leyton Orient last month, which saw him suffer a concussion and receive eight stitches.
After a taking part in non-contact training last week, the Pole has stepped up his recovery in the build-up to this Saturday's trip to the Banks’s Stadium and may return to the squad.
“We’ve had the whole of this week to get him back into the swing of things, with full contact sessions, including shot stopping and small-sided games,” goalkeeping coach Kevin Pilkington told the official site.
“We’re confident that the injury is not going to affect him and we’ve done drills where he makes saves at people’s feet to instil that confidence again.
“We’ve been patient, because the last thing we want is for Bart to rush back, get a blow to the head and be out for the season.
“Becky [Knight] (physio) knows what she’s on about and we’ve been going through the correct protocol and we look forward to having him back in the team performing week in, week out.”
Spiess has deputised in Bialkowski’s absence and has put in a number of impressive displays, including Man of the Match showings against Leyton Orient and Crewe Alexandra.
Pilkington has been pleased with the form of the young German, who has staked a claim to hold onto the spot between the sticks.
“We’ve been delighted with Fabs but it’s a learning stage of his career,” said Pilkington.
“He’s has shown that there’s that competition for places now but he’s still very young in goalkeeping terms and he’s still got to realise that himself.
“Sometimes you don’t peak until you’re around 26 or 27 – sometimes even later – so he’s got a few years ahead of him yet and, hopefully, it’ll be a steady rise and we’ll turn him into the end product.”
Pilkington has also been delighted with Bialkowski’s impact at Meadow Lane, following his arrival from Southampton in the summer, and feels that there is more to come from the custodian.
“We’re pleased with how he’s progressed throughout the season,” he explained.
“From day one, he’s been a pleasure to work with – a lovely lad, great temperament and very calm.
“One of the biggest things in football for goalkeepers is distribution – being able to use your feet – and he’s got that in his locker, as well as shot stopping and dealing with crosses as well.
“He’s got the all-round package but there’s still stuff to work on but we work on it every day in training.”
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