Reece Flanagan on course for Walsall return after development match
Reece Flanagan remains on course to feature for Walsall this season after stepping up his recovery from a serious knee injury.
The 22-year-old has been sidelined since April after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in training.
But the midfielder put on a Saddlers shirt for the first time on Wednesday as he played 45 minutes in a development fixture against Burton.
And he admitted it was great to be back playing with his team mates.
"It was great to get back into the swing of things," he said.
"I've been training for a few weeks but it's different playing games.
"I came off at half-time which was a shame because I was enjoying it.
"But I have to be careful and take things step by step.
"Match-tempo is a completely difference experience to training but I felt good.
"When I first trained the knee felt a bit off because you don't get the same flexion. It feels a bit foreign.
"But now it's just like before so I'm looking forward to playing more games."
Goals from Kieron Morris and Andreas Makris saw Walsall run out 2-1 winners over Burton in the development game played at St George's Park.
And coach John Ward believes the game will have given Flanagan a lot of confidence.
"Everyone was really pleased for Reece and he got a round of applause from his team mates at half-time," the former Bristol Rovers boss said.
"It was well deserved because we have seen him working at the training ground, putting in lots of hours, often on his own.
"A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to get him back onto the pitch.
"He didn't want to come off at half-time which is a great sign.
"But we stuck to the plan. And the next plan for him is to get in that first team before the end of the season.
"He has got a chance of doing that. He is a great asset to have, as a person and as a player and we are pleased to have him back."