Pair Progressing Well

by Rob Urbani

The Dixies

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Roberto Martinez is optimistic that both Tim Howard and John Stones will have overcome their injuries in time to be available for Saturday's game against West Bromwich Albion.

Respective knee and hamstring problems have forced the pair to miss the last two Premier League victories over Newcastle United and Stoke City.

The conditions of both players have improved following work with the Club’s medical staff at Finch Farm and Martinez now hopes both will be able to resume full training ahead of the weekend's fixture.

However, Muhamed Besic is not expected to be fit for the visit of the Baggies as he continues to work back from the hamstring problem which has kept him out since the Swansea match last month.

Martinez revealed: “Yesterday we had a very productive day in respect [of injuries]. John had a really good feeling after his work and we are hoping that he can join the group this week leading up to the West Brom game.

“Tim Howard is very similar. He had a very good session on a one-to-one basis.

“We knew that they were problems that could be managed and treated in a short-term and conservative manner. We are very pleased with how their bodies have reacted. 

“Now it’s about taking it step-by-step, introducing them to the group and seeing how they react. Hopefully they will be available for the West Brom game, if not at the maximum Bournemouth.

“Mo Besic is ahead of where we expected but it is probably too early for him to be involved in the West Brom game but I will be surprised if he doesn’t make the squad for the Bournemouth match or the week after against Aston Villa.”

In Howard’s absence, Joel Robles has kept two successive top-flight clean sheets, adding to the shut-out he recorded against Carlisle United in the FA Cup fourth round.

“Joel had to fill in for Tim and has done magnificently well,” Martinez, speaking on Tuesday morning, explained when asked if he has a selection headache should Howard be fit for Saturday. “I have always said that football makes a decision and we want competition for places. That’s what makes the squad we have so competitive.

“We want Tim to be fit, available and raring to go. As a manager, those are the sort of decisions you want to have.”

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