Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi has provided Nottinghamshire Live with an update on Michael Hefele.
The Reds defender hasn’t played for nearly a year after injuring his Achilles in a win over Leeds on New Year’s Day.
It had been anticipated that the German might be deemed surplus, although Lamouchi has now praised Hefele.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: “I am so impressed because he was out for many, many months – not quite a year.
“He is very positive inside the dressing room. The team, the physio, the medical department, they all try to help him.
“He’s a fantastic guy, very clever and very positive.”
Hefele joined Forest prior to last season. Aitor Karanka bolstered his defensive ranks with the £300,000 (BBC Sport) capture from Huddersfield.
Last season he made 18 appearances in all competitions before his injury curtailed his campaign.
During 2016/17 he led the Terriers to the Premier League for the first time, defying the odds in the process.
Lamouchi did perhaps drop a hint that the 29-year-old isn’t quite ready for a return just yet.
He continued: “I just want to focus on the players who are available, but I try to spend some with him and with the others.
“I need to focus on the players who will play on Saturday, next Wednesday and next Saturday against Cardiff – Michael Hefele will not be ready next week.”
The fact that Hefele is being spoken about as part of the first-team picture might alarm some supporters.
When everyone was fit last season the centre-back wasn’t the first choice. He did a job when injuries struck but he hardly set the City Ground alight.
With Michael Dawson, Joe Worrall, Tobias Figueiredo and Chema Rodriguez now in the ranks his first-team aspirations look bleak.
Hefele didn’t show anything last season to suggest he could oust any of the current crop and as a result, offloading him in January might be an option.
The Reds aren’t going to release or actively try and sell an injured player, although his City Ground days do look to be numbered.
Supporters will hope that Lamouchi doesn’t have any major plans to hand him a new lease of life.
Once he is fit an amicable parting of the ways might be an ideal situation, with Hefele still having 18 months on his Forest deal.