A Wembley carrot is being dangled in front of Jamie Proctor as the striker closes in on his long-awaited return for promotion-chasing Rotherham United.
The centre-forward travelled to London today to see his specialist and was expecting to be given the go-head to step up the final part his comeback after undergoing cruciate knee ligament surgery in August.
Manager Paul Warne predicts Proctor will be in first-team contention by the end of next month and is teasing the £75,000 summer signing from Bolton Wanderers about a possible dream appearance in the League One Play-off Final.
“It will be great to have him back,” said Warne who takes his fourth-placed side to MK Dons tomorrow night.
“I’ve said to him, it would be nice if he could come on and score the winner at Wembley. That would be Roy of the Rovers stuff. He could just drive off into the sunset and never play again!
Proctor, who is making such rapid progress he was able to take part in shooting practice last week, has impressed his boss with his commitment to his rehabilitation.
“He’s running limp-free and he’s out on the grass every day now, which is good for him and good for the lads, because they get to see him,” said Warne.
“He’s worked really hard to get back into the shape he’s in. I love Procs. The lads will give him stick for this, but he texts me before every game and he comes to loads of the games.
“Realistically, he’s not going to be available until mid to late April, but he’s so keen to get back. I’d love to let him play some part in our run-in.”
The manager joked that the club physios are trying so hard to protect the player that he is met with a wall of silence whenever he enquires about him.
“Every time I try to speak to the physios about him, they make an excuse,” he grinned. “It’s like: ‘Gaffer, the building’s on fire. We’ll have to go.’ They never want to have a conversation with me about it.
“But I don’t want to take unnecessary risks with him. If I took a risk on him and something was to happen, I’d never forgive myself. I am excited about Procs. He is a big part of us. He was our big summer signing. We’ve got four fit strikers. I’d love to have five. The more, the better.”
Rotherham - who lost for the first time in 15 matches, against Rochdale, last weekend - are in fourth place and have 11 games left to cement their place in the play-offs.
Left-back Joe Mattock suffered a dead leg in the Dale clash but should recover in time to face the next-to-bottom Dons.
“Joe is a little bit sore,” Warne said. “I think he’ll be available. He’s getting some treatment.”