Tommy Wright says Paul Malone may not have to leave Corby Town on loan after he this week stepped up his return from a double leg break.
The popular centre-half made a welcome return to match action on Monday night when he completed the full 90 minutes of a friendly against AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ under-21 side.
And, for good measure, he headed home one of the Steelmen’s seven goals in the 7-0 success in what was his first outing since suffering the horrific injury back in February.
Wright, who is preparing his team for this weekend’s Vanarama National League North clash at Boston United, is now likely to set up another friendly to allow Malone to continue his recovery.
And while the manager believes Malone going out on loan “would be a good move”, he insists there is a chance he could come straight back into the first-team fold once he has completely proved his fitness.
Wright said: “It (the friendly) went very well, it was what I expected.
“They were a young team but if you looked around our own line-up, aside from Molly, the rest were all 21 or younger.
“Molly (Malone) completed 90 minutes, which was a shock after nine months out but he would probably admit himself that he didn’t get tested as much as he or I wanted him to.
“I am sure he was feeling sore afterwards but he will be very happy as well.
“Now he needs to step it up that bit more from here. He is still not 100 per cent and it will be interesting to see how his body reacts.
“It’s difficult because he is basically teaching himself how to play football and how to run again.
“He did well. He won a lot of headers but he knows that he needs more games to get fully up to speed.
“The plan will be to arrange another game that will hopefully be a bit more competitive and if I challenge him to the point where I feel I have challenged him enough then he might not need to go out on loan.
“He is chomping at the bit to play and perhaps sending him on loan for a few games locally would be a good move but it’s something we will look at.”
“I know he would love nothing more than for me to put him on the bench for this weekend.
“But he is not at that point. I have to manage him the best way I think and I don’t want to give him any false hope.”