Nigel Clough says returning Burton Albion defender Tom Flanagan is unlikely to feature in Saturday's clash with Hull City as they assess his fitness for the new season.
Flanagan - a key member of the Albion defence in their successful bid for survival last term - signed a new two-year deal with the club on Wednesday, having previously declined a fresh contract offer back in June.
Given the lateness of the move in the summer, the Northern Ireland international is yet to train again with his Brewers teammates.
He has been doing work over pre-season with National League side Eastleigh FC, according to Clough, while also doing personal fitness work to be ready for the 2017/18 campaign.
But Flanagan is still unlikely to make the squad for the trip to Hull this weekend - and his manager knows the importance of him getting back onto the training field with the Championship Brewers.
Asked if it could take Flanagan some time to get up to fully into things, Clough said: "I would think so.
"He has been training with a team - I think he has been training with Eastleigh a little bit - and he has been doing little stuff on his own.
"But there is no substitute for joining in with us.
"We'll see how he is.
"He'll join in on Friday, probably won't be in the squad on Saturday and then we'll assess him next week."
Not that the player himself wants to be on the sidelines for long. Speaking to the club's website, Flanagan talked about the work he has been putting in this summer to stay match ready - and he says he is in a position to play his part whenever the team need him in the coming weeksa
"I have been training with a Conference side in order to keep fit," Flanagan told the Brewers website.
"I wasn't sitting at home doing nothing, I was taking care of myself so having been given this opportunity, I am in position to repay the manager as soon as possible.
"That means if he needs me in the next couple of weeks I’m definitely ready to go."
Clough is also keen to focus on the future for Flanagan at the Pirelli Stadium, and the positive impact he can have in the Burton defence as they again target survival in the Championship.
Even so, the Brewers boss believes the ex-MK Dons man can expect a 'suitable welcome' from his Brewers teammates at St George's Park tomorrow.
"We thought we had secured Tom at several points throughout the summer," he added after the midweek Carabao Cup victory at Oldham Athletic.
"But in the end, you put everything behind you. He has made a misjudgement.
"He'll receive a suitable welcome from the players, I think, later this week, and then we all shake hands and we get on with it and we look forward to him playing an important role for us this season and beyond."