Dean Smith will let Alan Judge decide when he is ready for a return to first team action – but he wouldn't be surprised to see it happen in January.
The mercurial midfielder came through another 70 minutes unscathed in a B team game against Wolves this week following a year and a half on the sidelines.
Although Judge is not quite ready for his much-anticipated first team return yet, next month's FA Cup third round tie against his former club Notts County may be too much to resist.
“I'm not sure careful is the right word,” said Bees boss Smith when asked if the player was being eased back in gently. “But what we're trying to do is be led by Alan himself as he will know his body best.
“He had a game against Wolves yesterday and played 70 odd minutes, and he had a tough game at Barnet the week before when he played 45, but that's all part and parcel of getting his fitness back.
“I'm sure as soon as he feels ready he'll be knocking on my door, but he hasn't yet. Knowing the way he thinks he'll see us playing Notts County in the FA Cup and I'm sure he'll want to be involved.
“But we've got to be led by him and the physical staff as well in terms of where he is.”
Another of the long-term injured, Lewis Macleod, saw his first action in more than a year when he came on as a late sub in the win over Fulham, and Smith can see him being ready for a start by the new year.
“Lewis is in the forefront of my mind now for first team games,” he added. “Probably not starting just yet, but certainly coming off the bench.
“When we get to after the Christmas period, the Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves games, he will come into my mind for starting as well.”