GARY Madine is preparing to rejoin the Owls’ promotion campaign.
The 11-goal striker has played for part of a private reserve game against Hull.
It signals that he has fully overcome the toe fracture that has kept him out of the side since the 2-1 win at Tranmere in November.
There is probably no chance of him being plunged straight into the team after a seven-week absence but he could be a contender for the bench for Saturday’s game against Charlton, and his progress is a boost for the club and fans ahead of the final four months of the campaign.
Despite his lay-off, only Jordan Rhodes of Huddersfield and Bradley Wright-Phillips of Charlton have scored more goals than him in League One this season, with 25 and 14 respectively.
Madine has been out for slightly longer than the original estimate of six weeks but it was just a matter of the bone healing properly, and he has continued to do as much fitness work as possible.
He played for the second half against Hull on Tuesday. A 45 minute outing is normal as a step forward in the rehabilitation of any player who has been out for weeks and is rebuilding his general fitness.
Gary Megson has said that neither Madine nor right back Lewis Buxton, who has been out for eight weeks with a hamstring injury suffered in the FA Cup-tie at Morecambe, can be rushed back prematurely.
Madine has missed eight games but the Owls have maintained their promotion challenge with goals coming from other sources.
Reda Johnson, for example, has chipped in with three since the Tranmere game in which Madine was injured, to reach a total of five for the season.
The defender is expected to be fit for the visit of Charlton after suffering a hip injury during the 1-0 win against West Ham on Sunday and being taken off in the 60th minute.