ROB LAINTON is closing in on a return but Manny Smith remains a long term injury casualty.

Lainton is yet to feature this season because of an ankle injury but the goalkeeper, recently named among the substitutes as cover because Dawid Szczepaniak was missing due to concussion, is making good progress.

"Rob is coming along okay," said Hughes.

"The diagnosis on Rob at the start of pre-season was it could be anything between three and 12 weeks, but it is more like the 12 weeks now so he is not far off being fully fit.

"Rob has had an injection just to clear the last little bit up; that has hopefully been successful and he is going to be stepping up his gym work this week, and hopefully get him back on the grass next week."

Smith picked up a knee injury in the 1-0 defeat at Solihull Moors on August 27 and although the centre-back played 90 minutes of Wrexham's 2-0 win over Eastleigh on December 8, he suffered a set-back and hasn't featured since.

Hughes said in pre-season that it would be a bonus if Smith was available before Christmas but the defender seems a long way off a return.

"Manny is a work in progress," said Hughes. "He has had a bit of an ordeal.

"He is just stepping it up now into gym work, he has lost a lot of muscle over these months that he has been out, so it is about building them back up and hopefully not getting any more reactions.

"We will see how he progresses over the next couple of months."