Jamille Matt can provide the goals Fleetwood Town need insists boss Graham Alexander after he put a new deal on the table for the injury-hit striker
Matt is one of five senior professionals offered a new contract in a turbulent week at Highbury in which the club captain was released - along with six other first team regulars.
The 24-year-old missed the entire of the last campaign after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the final minute of Town’s final pre-season game.
And his manager made it clear the club would never turn its back on his without giving the forward - Town’s record signing - a chance to prove himself.
He said: “We were devastated when Jamille got that injury in the last minute of the last pre-season game.
“We had high hopes for this season.
“We have missed him, we’ve missed his physical presence, his ability in front of goal, when the ball is in the box.
“We would never discard a player who has had an injury like that without giving them the chance to show what he could have been doing for us.”
Alexander, for one, believes Matt could have what it takes to transform Town’s fortunes in front of goal - his side averaging little more than a goal a game in the 2014/15 season.
“We have a lot of belief in Jamma,” he told The Gazette
“I brought him here.
“He had a fragmented first season when he broke his ankle, he’s had the injury this year.
“If he comes back and we can get him back to the same levels of fitness and mobility I think he can score us goals next season and that’s something we’ve sadly lacked.”
Matt has been working hard over the last nine months to get himself back to fitness - a long process working closely with club physio Luke Bussey.
He has been running and working with a football for the past two months and Alexander hopes he’ll be ready to join the first team squad when they report back for training at the start of July.
And he revealed there will be no summer break for the striker as he works his way back to fitness.
He said: “We hope he’s going to be ready to start pre-season.
“He won’t be having a summer holiday, he had his break in February because he had been going through a heavy programme of rehab work.
“He’s done it to the letter, working with Luke (Bussey) and the physios.
“We’re hoping he’ll be ready to start with the rest of the boys on the first day of pre-season.
“Hopefully he will do that but there’s still a timeframe for him to be back up to full fitness.
“A year is a long time in football and it was a serious injury so we have to be patient with him.
“But we’ll hopefully see him competing with the boys in that first week and if he’s anywhere near the level we have seen from him I think he’ll be an asset for us.”
Town will be relying on Matt for goals following the departure of David Ball, Stephen Dobbie and Josh Morris.
Along with Jamie Proctor he will be one of the experienced men up front - Ash Hunter the only other man left in the squad with experience in such a role.
Town have brought extra firepower into their development group with the capture of former Metz frontman Vamara Sanogo and former Preston academy youngster Eddie Dsane.