SIMON Dawkins is back in training ahead of Derby County’s Easter double header.
A groin problem sidelined Dawkins for a month and he missed six games.
Derby considered giving him a run out in tonight’s under-21 fixture against Birmingham City at the iPro Stadium, kick-off 7pm, but have decided not to risk him.
Instead, the 26-year-old wide player will have a full week’s training to prepare him for the run-in which starts with a trip to face Doncaster Rovers on Good Friday followed by a home game against Barnsley on Easter Monday.
“We’re pleased to welcome Simon Dawkins back,” said first-team coach Paul Simpson.
“He has worked hard with the rest of the group and also worked hard in the last couple of weeks with his rehab to get back to this point.”
Another of the wide players, Jamie Ward, appeared as a substitute in Saturday’s victory over Huddersfield Town after missing four games with a hamstring injury.
Asked if minutes on the pitch in the under-21 game might benefit Dawkins and Ward, Simpson said: “We want to give them a full week’s training.
“It is a fine balancing act between what we would get from them if we played them in an under-21 game and what we get out of them in training sessions. So we have decided not to give them a run out.
“We are confident with the training they will do this week that both should be available for the Easter period and the two games after that.
“Even when lads are out injured, they still have to do enough cardio work to make sure they maintain some level of fitness.
“We have a test that gauges where their fitness levels are, and they both seem okay. So we are not concerned about that.”
Derby hope to go into the Doncaster game with a fully fit squad.
“We are still missing Jimmy O’Connor, Paul Coutts and Shaun Barker – we did not expect to have them back – but we have got a good group from which to choose,” said Simpson.
“Hopefully, all the players will come through the week’s training.
“Players will play with slight knocks and little niggles at this time of the season because no-one wants to go out of the team.
“Jeff Hendrick was on a great run of form. He went out of the side and Will Hughes stepped back in as though he had never been out of it. Now Jeff’s got a job on his hands to get back in.
“We want competition, and we have got that with a full quota to choose from.”