'don'wards And Upwards

Trevor Brooking feels that Don Hutchison is on the up after his recent match-winning performance against Derby County.

"He will have taken a lot of pluses from that goal at Derby before he had another run-out in the reserves against Portsmouth, and then of course getting a substitute's appearance for Scotland at the weekend," says Trevor.

"So that is good for him and he can now look forward to this flurry of games coming up in a much better frame of mind and in contention for other opportunities.

"He had that really bad knee injury which meant he was out for the best part of a year; we all know that takes time.

"Unfortunately with Hutch he has got to then work on the physical running part of the game, no more so than in this league.

"The dilemma is that every player would like to get match fit playing in the first team but from our point of view we can't really use up that time.

"And to be fair, playing in the reserves isn't the ideal way to get that fitness level.

"Certainly from a midfield point of view this is a league where you need a lot of legs but Hutch certainly has that adaptability where he can play up front as a striker as well.

"If we can gradually ease him back in and use him in the right times then hopefully he will get himself to that level of fitness to challenge when Alan has taken over.

"But knowing Alan, looking at his past sides at Reading, they are very fit, work very hard, and that is the area that Hutch is going to have to reach if he is going to be in contention consistently for him.

"I just thought that without Jermain - naturally we were going to start with Neil Mellor and David Connolly - this week we are without David and Jermain for Norwich and it is an area we would be thin on.

"Don has played in that forward role, and obviously Richard Garcia is there as well.

"He worked quite hard in the reserve game prior to Derby, and we have said the area of his fitness level is important to get at a higher level."

Don was, perhaps, a surprise inclusion on the bench at Pride Park after just one reserve game, but Trevor adds:

"We thought we would take him to the Derby game and to be honest, looking at the substitutions we probably didn't need two defensive substitutions with the way Derby play.

"So I decided to leave Matthew Kilgallon out on that occasion because Kevin Horlock could go to left back if needed, and include Hutch on the bench.

"As the game unfolded, we were struggling to keep it a little bit in the second half and I just thought 'let's see how Hutch does for 25 minutes or so' - not expecting him to come up with the winner!

"So it was no masterstroke from that point of view.

"But he has a good football brain and he did well for us on occasions and in the end the actual strike itself was a very difficult skill on the half turn."