SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY manager Steve Bruce says he will give injury-jinxed duo Gary Hooper and Kieran Lee plenty to time to prove their fitness - ahead of making a decision on their futures in the summer.
The pair, who were key players in the Owls' run to the Championship play-off final in 2015-16 and in the semi-final qualification in the following campaign, have experienced an injury nightmare for over a year, with their last first-team appearances coming back in December 2017.
Out of contract in June, the pair are slowly on the mend, with Hooper set to return to training on Wednesday after a serious groin problem which required surgery.
Lee - who has been troubled by hip and recently knee problems - could be back in training next week, Bruce confirmed.
On their futures, Bruce said: "It is a difficult one for them. That is why I have said to them that we will be patient and give them every time that they need.
"Of course, it is always a worry when you are out of contract as a player, especially when you have had a serious injury. But thankfully, there is six months before the end of their contracts and it is an important time for them and us and we will see if we can help them.
"They have been two really good players for the club and it would be glad to see them back if they possibly can.
"He (Lee) is still the same, really. He is a bit better. I had him in last week and things are doing to plan with him and Hooper and we are hoping Hooper is back into training on Wednesday. That is the first positive steps with him.
"Of course, he is still going to be a long time - when you have been out for 14 months. We hope Kieran will be in during the following week. Let's hope there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel."