Jack Ross hopes to have Peter Pawlett available during the “early stage of the season”, as the Dundee United ace recovers from serious Achilles surgery.
Pawlett, 31, went under the knife in March to finally correct a persistent complaint after the pain had become too severe to continue playing.
The procedure ended his 2021/22 campaign — a major blow for the Tangerines, given he contributed five goals and an assist in 28 appearances.
And while Ross confirmed that Pawlett will play no part in pre-season, he is confident United fans will soon see the waspish midfielder back in action.
Peter Pawlett bay-bay! 🙌
— SPFL (@spfl) October 28, 2021
Ross explained: “He still has a wee bit to go. It was obviously a fairly serious injury that Peter had.
“He certainly won’t be back during the pre-season period.
“That early period of the season will be the earliest we will have Peter available, which is obviously disappointing because you want to have your good players available.
“But hopefully he can be back with us during that early stage of the season and we can progress him from there.”
Indeed, Ross is keen to preach patience to ensure Pawlett can finally put his fitness woes behind him.
Speaking earlier this year, Pawlett revealed that he had to learn how to WALK again following the procedure, having struggled with persistent pain since 2017.
“I’ve already had a chat with him to say there’s no point coming this far and then not remaining patient,” continued Ross.
“He needs to stick to the plan. The operation was something he needed done — he’s spoken about the pain he’s had in the past.
“So, there is a short-term pain for Dundee United in terms of being without him, because he is a good player.
“Hopefully, that will be outweighed by the long-term gain of having a fully fit Peter Pawlett for the rest of the season.”
Staking a claim
Meanwhile, Ross admits United’s lack of business in the transfer market to date has afforded youngsters and forgotten men a welcome opportunity to shine.
With the Tangerines currently the only side in the Premiership yet to make a signing — something they aim to remedy this week — Ross has been working with a small, youthful group.
Teenagers Mathew Cudjoe and Rory Macleod found the net in a bounce game against Falkirk on Saturday.
The likes of Declan Glass and Logan Chalmers — farmed out on loan last terms — also have a chance to stake a claim.
“Sometimes a big squad will block pathways,” continued Ross.
“Well, at the moment, there is a pathway because of the circumstances and the numbers being what they are.
“It can often be the case that these are the times when someone can grab an opportunity.
“That opportunity to play alongside first-team players and impress is there.
“Then the responsibility is on them to do well.”