St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson is excited by the prospect of Jonah Ayunga’s return but insists he won’t rush the striker back into first team action.
Ayunga has been sidelined since January after suffering a cruciate ligament injury but has been back in training and was able to play in a game last week as he continues his rehabilitation.
St Mirren’s social media accounts showed the 26-year-old scoring in that bounce game, building anticipation among supporters who are keen to see him back in the team.
Robinson warned that it might be late December before Ayunga is in the starting line-up but says the player is making good progress.
“Jonah played his first 45 minutes of competitive football for a long time and scored in a bounce game here at the training ground.
“So, we’re delighted for him, he came through that unscathed but he’s still a long way away from (full fitness). We need minutes and game time. I’ve got the best physio around in Gerry Docherty and Gerry will tell me when he’s ready to play.
“I brought him in straight after the game, he was absolutely buzzing with it, we were all buzzing for him and to tell him that the honeymoon is over and now the real work starts. That’s just the reality of football but as I say he’s worked hard, and we feel he will be a big part going forward once we get the minutes in his legs and he’s 100% ready to go.”
🔢 Jonah Ayunga got minutes in a bounce game at the St Mirren Training Ground yesterday.— St Mirren FC (@saintmirrenfc) October 24, 2023
The forward scored the opening goal and played 45 minutes as he continues his comeback from injury 💪#OurStMirren #COYS pic.twitter.com/4CwDau5MBQ
The St Mirren manager explained that he was wary of bringing the player back too soon and suffering any sort of adverse reaction, and that Ayunga would have to follow a programme of steady progress, but that he feels the player has potential to make the wait worthwhile.
“There are certain things we have to tick first, I want Jonah for the long-term, not for 2 games,” Robinson said. “I’m very much guided by the medical side of it. We’re delighted with him; he’s been in training every day. He’s had no reaction, but we need minutes in his legs, and we’ll get that over the coming weeks.
“He will be like a new signing for us when he comes back, he scored a very good goal, we know what he brings to us.
“From Christmas onward he’s going to be a huge part of what we do in the coming weeks and months.
“He signed a new contract with us, the board were excellent in showing faith in what I thought was a very good player for us and taking a little bit of a leap of faith in terms of where he was with his injury. Jonah was delighted to sign so hopefully for all parties that will be a very good decision.”
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