Dunfermline Athletic defender Lewis Martin has signed a new short-term deal as he seeks to prove his fitness.
The 25-year-old missed the entirety of the 2020/21 campaign due to a persistent calf complaint, with a swathe of scans, exams and visits to specialists failing to get to the bottom of the issue.
The former Scotland under-19 internationalist was out of contract at the end of May but, despite his recent woes, boss Peter Grant is adamant Martin’s tireless graft and determination justified an extension.
“Lewis has had a tough time over the last 15 months,” said Grant. “But he’s a big part of the group and it’s just a matter of getting the right diagnosis. We’re looking at that closely.
“He’s feeling good but we need to be careful because he has been out for a long period of time.
“I’m looking forward to getting him on the training ground. When that will be, I’m not 100 per cent sure — but we’ll give him every opportunity.
“We’ve just got to get to the bottom of it to give the kid a chance because he deserves that, with the amount of work he’s put in to try to get back.”
Grant added: “He’s under contract and he’s getting well looked after.”
Dunfermline are reluctant to reveal the length of the contract but it will cover the early part of the campaign, and is likely to be extended if Martin makes a full recovery.
And Grant is adamant the versatile defender, who has made 164 appearances for the club, remains a massive part of his plans moving forward.
“Lewis would be an asset to us for many reasons,” said the Dunfermline manager.
“We know he can really play — and he can operate in different positions, which is a benefit to have in your football club.
“I’ve seen that myself playing against him. Every time one of my teams have gone up against Lewis, he’s played in a different position!”
Ryan Dow: ‘He’s too important’
Grant, meanwhile, has vowed not to rush Ryan Dow back as the winger continues his recovery from an achilles tear sustained against Raith Rovers in February.
That prematurely ended Dow’s season and was a hammer-blow for the Pars, such was his importance to the side prior to the set-back.
“Ryan’s coming on. He’s worked his socks off and he’s in fantastic shape,” said Grant. “But we need to be very careful.
“We know his enthusiasm for the game and how much he wants to play but I’ve told him: ‘I know what you can do and I respect you as a footballer — so don’t rush back.’
“That was obviously just to allay his fears because I know what it’s like when you go into a club and there’s a new manager coming in.
“What I don’t want is for him to rush back, trying to get on the training pitch and setting himself back. He’s too important.”