ALEX Jones is closing in on an end to his four-month absence from the City frontline.

Jones and Omari Patrick could both be declared ready to rejoin training this week.

That will come as a timely boost for Simon Grayson as he faces the next three games without leading scorer Charlie Wyke.

Jones has not featured since the home defeat against Plymouth in November. He damaged his ankle in training afterwards and went under the knife for an operation on December 1.

It has been a frustrating second season at the club for the former Birmingham frontman, whose five goals have all come in cup competitions.

But Grayson is optimistic that Jones and youngster Patrick will soon be knocking on the door to increase his attacking options.

He said: "They are in the latter stages of their recovery with the fitness work. We'd expect both of them to potentially join in with us this week.

"They will be good additions to the squad and give us that competition for places.

"Both have played some football in the first team in the early part of the season, so it will be nice to get them in and around us."

City face their upcoming matches against MK Dons, Wigan and Doncaster without Wyke after losing their appeal against his red card at Plymouth.

Grayson felt the club had a good case after Wyke was dismissed for putting his arm in the face of home defender Sonny Bradley.

But he hopes the enforced break will enable the 14-goal hitman to recharge his batteries and rediscover his best form in time for the run-in.

The City boss said: "We're still disappointed losing the appeal. You know when you appeal that it is a very close decision and we felt we could get it overturned.

"We were quite confident that Charlie had not gone maliciously through it. But obviously the panel decided differently and we have to accept that.

"But we probably haven't seen the best of Charlie in the last few games because he has been running on empty.

"Playing on his own up there, he's been taking a battering from centre halves while carrying the majority of the workload.

"Hopefully we can do well without him. I'd prefer him to be available but the three games out will give him the chance to recover.

"We want him to come back a little bit sharper and carry on the good form that he was on before and try to hit that 20-goal mark."

With no Wyke, the onus will be on the likes of Dominic Poleon, Paul Taylor and Shay McCartan to step up as City formulate a plan of attack without their target man.

"It's an opportunity for somebody else to come into the team and stay there," said Grayson.

"Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than when Charlie becomes available, we have won all those games and he's got to fight to get back in the starting 11.

"That means we've been doing well without him."