While he has been a regular in the starting lineup for a few seasons now, Mark Davies never lit the Reebok alight until this season. Whether it was the challenge of a new league, the lack of a commanding midfielder in the squad, or just the fact that at 24 he's starting to grow into his footballing ability, this was no doubt his best season to date. Due to this, it was especially gutting when the news that he would spend extended time on the treatment table after injuring himself against Huddersfield Town (a match in which he won our MOTM). The estimated layoff was "up to 3 months", but two months later, Sparky is reportedly fit and ready to go against Burnley this weekend.
However, he cannot expect to stroll into the Bolton starting XI, and he knows that. Speaking to the press Davies said,
I am progressing well and because of the nature of the injury, I have been able to get back to fitness work quite quickly, so I have been able to keep on track with that. Obviously there's a difference between match fitness and match sharpness but, hopefully, I won't be too much off the pace when I come back.
It's always frustrating when you are injured because you want to be out there playing your part. But the manager has been great with me and I have been well looked after by the medical staff.
There's real competition for places. Prats [Darren Pratley] and Jay [Spearing] have been doing well and Josh [Vela] has come in and shown his quality, while Medo [Kamara] joined us in the transfer window and, of course, we have Keith [Andrews] who's out injured at the moment, and Stuart [Holden] is coming through too, so we have a real fight on to get in the team. My target is to get back as soon as I can.
He's certainly right about that situation. Bolton has a large squad currently, and the midfield is one of the most hotly contested places in the team. There are 7 players including Davies competing for 2-3 places, and if Jan Gregus keeps scoring like this for the reserves, he will be added to that number sooner rather than later.
Competition aside, the club clearly see a lot in Mark Davies, as they (rather oddly) extended his contract to 2017 recently. As with all injuries, and as he acknowledged himself, he must be given time to return to match sharpness, but hopefully he can return to that best season of his career without too much more interruption. Welcome back, Sparky!