John Ward: Bristol Rovers will not rush Danny Woodards' comeback

Danny Woodards

Bristol Rovers boss John Ward says it would be unfair to rush defender Danny Woodards into a starting role too soon after making his return from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Woodards, 30, played his first two games in nine months this week, as a late sub against Exeter and Birmingham.

"Despite his experience and knowledge of the game, we have to be fair to him," Ward told BBC Radio Bristol.

"Danny was ready to come back, he and I agreed on that."

Ward continued: "I've not just thrown him in there without chatting to the lad.

"We know where we are going with Danny and we will treat him properly. It's great to think for the last 20 or so games that I've got a fit Danny Woodards available.

"We are looking at nine or 10 months in which the guy has had 30 minutes, at most, in a first-team environment. And if we chose him as a starter you are possibly using up one of your subs because 90 minutes might be too much, even for an experienced guy like Danny, right now.

"I do think we need to get him into a starting position and we have a (friendly) game arranged on Tuesday which is good."

Woodards, who signed a new one-year deal with the Pirates in August, was greeted by applause at the Memorial Stadium when he made his comeback in Saturday's 2-1 win against Exeter.

The late substitute appearance was his first since leaving the field on a stretcher at Bradford on 9 April.

It was his second comeback from a major injury in 18 months, having also missed the start of last term after breaking his ankle.

"I've definitely been tested and feel that I've come out the other side stronger," said Woodards.

"I'm happy with where I am at the moment and want to push on. It's been a long time, I've been desperate to get out there and help the team push up the league.

"I'm glad to be back on the pitch and hope to help the fans get what they want."