NICKY Weaver today takes an important step in his bid to regain his Sheffield Wednesday place.
The keeper ends an absence of almost four months from match action by playing in an away private friendly against Leeds.
It follows Stephen Bywater’s return to Derby after the end of his loan.
Weaver looks set to compete with Richard O’Donnell, who has played in both FA Cup ties this season, for the goalkeeping spot at Walsall on Boxing Day.
O’Donnell’s good form when he has stood in for either of the more experienced keepers means it cannot be taken for granted that Weaver will step straight back into the side. If Bywater is re-signed in January then competition for the No 1 spot will become even more intense.
Weaver has been training for weeks but has not been able to play in a competitive game yet.
The Owls were hoping to arrange a behind-closed-doors game before now but were unable to do so because of the weather.
But Weaver’s return to fitness after a knee injury will not affect manager Gary Megson’s view that the club should try to re-sign Bywater next month.
The Owls won eight, drew three and lost only one of the 12 games in which the Derby keeper played, and he could not be blamed for any of Huddersfield’s four goals last Saturday.
The presence of two experienced keepers would give the Owls extra strength in depth for their promotion challenge.
Captain Rob Jones has already said that he would like to see Bywater and other loan stars Danny Batth and Ben Marshall renew their stays at Hillsborough.