BURTON Albion boss Gary Rowett is in line for his first manager of the month award.
Rowett has been nominated for the December accolade in League Two after his side picked up 13 of the 18 points on offer to strengthen their promotion challenge.
The Brewers boss faces competition for the award from Gareth Ainsworth of Wycombe Wanderers and Oxford United’s Chris Wilder.
Rowett said: “It’s nice for the club to be recognised and it’s nice to know the effort that the players put in to get some decent results has been acknowledged.”
Albion started the month by upsetting the form book with a 1-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra in the secoind round of the FA Cup.
They returned to League Two action with a victory over Accrington Stanley followed by a hard-earned point at Chesterfield.
The Brewers slipped to a disappointed 3-2 defeat at Barnet in the run-up to Christmas but bounced back with home wins against Rochdale and Southend United to end 2012 in the play-off places.
Wycombe had three wins and a draw during the month, but also lost heavily at Cheltenham Town and went out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the hands of Yeovil Town.
Oxford were unbeaten during December but four of their seven league and cup fixtures ended in stalemate.Meanwhile, Rowett is hoping key defenders Zander Diamond and Anthony O’Connor return to action in Saturday’s League Two game against Torquay United at the Pirelli Stadium after missing the 2-0 FA Cup defeat away to Leicester City.
Diamond has not played since the visit to Barnet before Christmas after being laid low by a virus and a hamstring injured ruled Blackburn Rovers loanee O’Connor out of the visit to the King Power Stadium.
Rowett said: “We could have risked Zander against Leicester but we decided he wouldn’t be able to do himself or the team justice.
“He’s feeling a lot better in himself now and hopefully he’ll be able to train towards the end of the week to put himself in contention for the Torquay game.“It’s a bit early to say whether Anthony will be back but he’s progressing really well in terms of his recovery.”
Rowett is also optimistic that targetman Calvin Zola will shake off a groin problem.
The Brewers boss said: “Calvin always suffers a bit when he plays a lot of football in a short space of time.
“But he’s got time to recover with us not having a midweek game. He should be okay by the weekend.”
ALBION supporters can take advantage of an early bird ticket offer for the rearranged fixture at Oxford United on Tuesday, January 29.
Tickets are available in advance by telephoning 01283 565938 or by visiting the club shop. Early bird prices are £19 (adults), £15.50 (studenrs) and £11.50 (over 65/under 16). Admission is free for children under the age of seven.Prices will increase on matchday to £21.50, £17.50 and £12.50 respectively.