Steve Bruce says patience is the key with Ritchie De Laet as he spoke happily about the right-back’s return to fitness.
De Laet suffered a cruel blow early on in his claret and blue career, suffering a season-ending knee injury in December 2016.
The former Leicester full-back has returned to action in pre-season and he has been a very welcome sight out on the fields in Portugal.
But Bruce urged caution as he believes De Laet will need time to get right up to speed.
He said: “I think the first thing with Ritchie is not to rush him.
“He’s been out for a long, long time and when it’s a cruciate injury – in my experience – you never really get back until you recover from the length of time you’ve been in.
“So, for me, yes he’s back on the pitch – but three-quarters there.
“All sorts of things come in when you come back from injury – the mind, your overall physical condition – so we’ve got to gently ease him back in.”