MARTIN Woods can play a major role in Doncaster Rovers battle for survival, says assistant manager Richard O’Kelly.
The cultured midfielder is close to making a first-team comeback having been plagued by a groin injury for the majority of the season.
Since the turn of the year, the former Sunderland and Leeds United player has featured just once, coming off the bench against Reading.
Woods was deemed not fit enough for selection for the Championship showdown with table-topping Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
But Woods, who has clocked up more than 100 appearances in Rovers colours, could be in contention for the trip to Bristol City a week today.
“It will be like a new signing when we get Martin back,” O’Kelly told The Star. “He brings certain qualities to the team.
“He has got a lovely left foot and gives us that balance in the middle of the park.
“We would obviously prefer to have him fit and in our team than not.”
O’Kelly said Rovers medical team will assess Woods’ fitness on Monday. Woods trained twice last week but O’Kelly says the 25-year-old will not considered for selection until he takes part in a full week’s training.
“Martin is an important player for us but his absence has given other people an opportunity to play games,” added O’Kelly.
“The players who have come in and deputised for him have done magnificently. I think Mark Wilson and Simon Gillett have done really well in that position and it was nice to get them involved again.”
While Rovers will be without the services of top scorer Billy Sharp, James Chambers and Paul Keegan for the rest of the campaign, Wayne Thomas and Steve Brooker are set to hand manager Sean O’Driscoll a boost for the showdown at Ashton Gate.
Thomas is in line to train next week while Brooker is on the mend from a calf injury.
It is thought the duo may be involved at City, who are six points and five places above Rovers in the table.
Injuries have blighted Brooker throughout his Rovers career.
The striker, who has not scored since November 2008, recently started in the 1-0 defeat at Millwall.
O’Kelly hopes Brooker will be ready to face his former employees, saying: “Steve has completed a full week of training so hopefully he will be available for the rest of the year.”