Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison has absolutely no intention of rushing Devante Rodney back to action.
The Pools striker has missed a chunk of pre-season through injury and was put on his own separate programme by the club’s staff.
And even though youngster Rodney has come to the end of that tailored training regime, Harrison is loath to throw him in at the deep end, especially given his injury history in his relatively short career to date.
“He is still a way off,” Harrison said of Rodney ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Maidenhead. He has played 15 minutes all pre-season.
“We have to look after him. As much as he has burst on the scene, he needs to be nurtured.
“We need to be conscious of managing players.
“He has been injured and has a poor injury record. We need to make sure he is right.
“He will get an opportunity. We have three forwards who will have to share 55 games this season.
“It is important that we manage him – he is probably two to three weeks away from starting a game.”
Expectation is another aspect of Rodney’s arrival on the scene at Pools that Harrison is keen to manage.
Few will forget his contribution on the final day of last season, but Harrison is quick to point out that too much cannot be expected of the former Sheffield Wednesday man too soon. “Yes, he scored two goals at the end of the season, but that was also his only contribution for the season,” said the manager.
“We have got to make sure we do not put the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“No one should be expecting him to be the top scorer in the league. He has not played a lot of football at 19.”