“James is a really important player for us on and off the field,” the manager said. “He’s got experience and a really strong character and is a competitor. We miss him on the field and to have him back in training is good. If there are no issues he’ll be involved for the next game [after Hartlepool].”
Patrick Vieira expressed his satisfaction with having James McArthur back on the training pitch, confirming that he, James Tomkins and Wilfried Zaha are all in action at Copers Cope Road.
Although Vieira’s hand has been strengthened with players nearing a return, he confirmed none would be available for this Saturday’s FA Cup match.
“[The squad is] looking good, I will say. We have Macca and Tonks who started training with the team. We had Jordan and Wilfried coming back from the Africa Cup of Nations. Everybody is doing well.
“We had a training session this morning [Friday] and for Wilfried it’s too soon to be a part of the squad. Macca as well it’s too short. He just had a couple of training sessions with the squad. They need a couple more days before getting involved [playing] with the squad.”
Turning his attention to the upcoming cup clash, Vieira made clear he wants to progress as far as possible in the competition.
“We want to give ourselves the best chance to go to the next round and have a really good run in the FA Cup. We were lucky to have a draw at home so have to take that advantage. We will do our best to go to the next round and we have to go to the next round.
“We know we are favourites and have to be mentally prepared because it’s not going to be easy at all. We have to prepare mentally for those challenges ahead of us; there are no excuses, we need to be ready and to compete in the right way.”