HOPE Akpan is being encouraged to start throwing his weight around after earning a recall into the City picture.

Matty Palmer’s knee injury has opened the door again for Akpan to return to central midfield against Swindon.

He had been out of the frame since being dropped at the end of August following a poor display at Crewe.

Bowyer has sat down with the midfielder to demand more from him – and has seen a positive response.

Akpan scored a header when captaining the side against Man City’s academy in the Leasing.com Trophy and he made an impact coming off the bench at Scunthorpe after Palmer was forced off early.

Bowyer wants that to continue from a player who has struggled to do himself justice in a City shirt.

The City boss said: “We’ve spoken with him recently about the physical presence that he has. He gives us something different in the middle of the park.

“Hope proved the other night against Man City under-21s that when he’s charging forward, he’s difficult to play against. He can contribute with goals like he did.

“He found himself having a couple of goal-scoring opportunities last Saturday as well and he’s got to build on that.

“How he’s applied himself and trained in the past couple of weeks is something for him to keep on doing now.

“The competition is there and that’s the same for everybody. We said that to them last week.

“You’ve got people breathing down your neck, which is great, because that in itself raises the standards.”

Akpan scored twice last season - at former club Burton, where he produced by far his best performance, and Portsmouth.

Palmer is waiting to see a specialist to discover the full extent of his injury but faces some time out.

Bowyer admitted: "We are gutted to lose Matty - he has played a key role for us.

"He was clearly struggling, so we had to bring him off - and he left the stadium wearing a brace.

"Hopefully, the specialists will be able to give us some more positive news. Matty is in the best-possible hands and our medical team will work closely with him during his rehabilitation."

Bowyer can call on Zeli Ismail and Jermaine Anderson again after both have managed a full week’s training under their belts.