GARY Bowyer has stressed the vital part that sports science plays in the hectic winter period as City’s fight for places hots up.

Harry Pritchard, Ben Richards-Everton and Hope Akpan are all back in training after missing the win over Newport.

But Bowyer will resist rushing any of them back early as he builds towards the busiest spell of the League Two campaign.

He said: “All three joined in the session on Tuesday and we’ll see how they recover going into the rest of the week.

“But it’s good because you can see the competition for places. I thought Paudie (O’Connor) came in and was excellent on Saturday.

"It’s a good sign when the ones who’ve missed out through injury or suspension are not guaranteed to get straight back.

“It’s a case of managing people’s loads correctly, which we do with the monitoring that goes on with Ben Rome and the physios Chris (Royston) and Dayle (Avison).

“For example, Jake Reeves has done ever so well but it’s important that we allow him the recovery time that’s needed as well as the dialogue to make sure that he’s ready to go again on Saturday.

“It’s a massive part of it. That also goes with the players when they are away from us in terms of how they behave and look after themselves.”

Bowyer insists sixth-placed City continue to head the right way following last week’s result, which kept them five points off leaders Swindon.

He added: “It felt like we could have won by more. But it gave us that winning feeling back, even though we’d won the last time we played at home in the league against Exeter.

“Somebody threw me the stat that we are top of the league in terms of home form and it’s our best start at home for 30 years.

“If you’re picking up points away and winning your home games, you’re heading down the right path.

“People were talking about only getting a point at Macclesfield. I thought that was a little bit disrespectful to Macclesfield who’ve only lost one in the last 14 games there.

“As I always say, there are no easy points. If you think you only have to turn up, that’s when you get slapped across the face.

“For how we are and where we are after what happened last season, we’re making progress and heading in the right direction.

“I think there’s still a hell of a lot more to come. The league has still not really settled but you might get a better idea after this Christmas period.

“It’s just a case of sticking in and around it and winning as many games as possible.”