STEVE Bruce insists David Meyler is ready to fight for a first-team spot after completing the necessary minutes for the reserves.
Bruce had pledged to ease Meyler back into first-team action after a second career-threatening knee injury sidelined the midfielder for eight months.
But the 22-year-old successfully completed a second successive 90-minute run-out for the reserves in midweek, in his fourth outing for the second string since returning to full fitness.
Boss Bruce believes Meyler can now be considered for a first-team spot and is delighted the former Republic of Ireland U21 international has added to his midfield options.
Bruce said: “There’s no need for the kid glove treatment with David any more – the gloves are off now.
“He played his second full 90 minutes for the reserves against Everton on Tuesday night and came through fine once again. As far as I’m concerned, he is back in the squad and available.”
SEE Saturday’s Mail for full story