Daniel Ballard is back in full training with Millwall – but manager Gary Rowett is set to take a cautious approach with his match minutes.
The on-loan Arsenal defender has been one of the club’s most impressive performers but has been out since the start of December with a knee injury.
Ballard was initially expected to be out for three months but resumed full training with the Lions on Thursday. Prior to that he also had a period of modified training with the Gunners.
Rowett told the South London Press: “He feels good and has been coming to some of our games. He is desperate to get back in there. But with the likes of Dan, Jed [Wallace] and Sav [George Saville] is accept they have been out for a while, Sav probably less so.
“We can’t just chuck them into 90 minutes of football and expect them to perform at the level they need to. We still need to modify some of their game time and get through a little bit of training. Hopefully on the back of that they will be back involved and with a chance of starting games.
“Injuries are part and parcel of any season but we’ve had Dan Ballard who was performing brilliantly, Lenny [Ryan Leonard] was just beginning to hit a bit of form – the likes of Bradders [Tom Bradshaw] and Sheyi [Ojo]. Jed out for eight weeks. Sav out for a little bit. It’s been really difficult to get an continuity, along with the Covid cases.
“I’m pretty sure we’re not on our own in that respect in this division. We can’t afford to have key injuries and need that little bit of fortune to get to where we want to get to.
“Dan was doing really well and performing fabulously in the Championship. It will be great to get him back out there and back in the mix.”