Thursday, September 8th, 2016
Lee Johnson insists he would have no issues throwing Korey Smith straight in at the deep end but says he will take advice from the player himself.
Midfielder Smith returned to full training this week after undergoing an ankle operation in the summer, described at the time by Johnson as “an MOT on his body”.
The City head coach says the former Oldham Athletic midfielder could be in the squad that heads north to Rotherham United for Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship match (3pm).
But he said at his pre-match press conference: “I need to speak with Korey. He’s one of the fittest guys and I’ve no doubts that he would be great, even if I threw him in straight away.
“What I need to know from him is that he’s right with it in his own mind. It’s a mental thing now.
“Do I take him this weekend just to integrate back into the group? Do I put him on the bench? These are the things I need to decide, but I need to speak to him.”
Johnson refused to be drawn on whether Swedish deadline day signing Gustav Engvall would make his debut at the New York Stadium.
He hopes to have Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham available for selection, despite suffering a foot injury in City’s last outing, the 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Ashton Gate, two weeks ago.
He said: “We did actually send Tammy back to Chelsea for them to have a look at him. We had already assessed him but there’s no harm in getting another opinion.
“He’s been working closely with (City physio) Steve Allen during the international break, so we hope he’ll be ok.”
Hamstring injury victim Adam Matthews is set to return to training at some point next week, but the Derby game (September 17th) is likely to be too soon for his comeback.
“What I need to know from [Korey] is that he’s right with it in his own mind. It’s a mental thing now."