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After almost two years, Joshua Langford will be back in Michigan State's starting lineup

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Knock on whatever sort of wood you’d like or say whatever prayer necessary, but with the season roughly two week from tipping off, it looks like Joshua Langford’s comeback will include being in Michigan State’s starting lineup.

Tom Izzo indicated as much on Wednesday when he said the senior guard, who has missed the last year-and-a-half recovering from two separate foot surgeries, has had no setbacks in practice and appears ready to go.

Michigan State guard Joshua Langford will be back in the starting lineup when the season starts this month.

“I guess I'm going to finally say it,” Izzo said, “Josh Langford, heaven forbid, but I think he's about as close to back to 100% as he can be. So I am not gonna hide behind that anymore and I told him I'm going to start putting pressure on him now, and I feel good about it.”

Langford last played in a game on Dec. 29, 2018. He started that night against Northern Illinois, then sat out the second half with a sore foot. At the time, it was thought to be a precaution. Soon, the season was lost with surgery No. 1 and as Langford began practice last fall with plans to return for the 2019-20 season, a setback led to surgery No. 2 and full season lost.

That led to plenty of trepidation this fall as Langford made the decision to return to Michigan State for another season. It was clear early in practice, though, that this was different. Most of the apprehension was gone for Langford and he was soon playing like himself.

He admitted it was taking time to get back into playing shape, but he’s almost there now and Izzo said Langford will be a big part of the rotation.

“ Him and I had a good talk last night, and Josh is in that starting rotation,” Izzo said. “To think of two years ago when he thought basketball was done and where he is right now is just an incredible, incredible compliment to the doctors, to my trainer, Nick (Richey), our strength coach, and maybe most of all by far is Josh. It's been an incredible journey and he's been really solid.”

Schedule takes shape

While pieces of Michigan State’s schedule have slowly been coming out, a full slate for the 2020-21 season has yet to be released.

On Wednesday, Izzo said he hoped it would be release soon but feels good about where things stand with teams able to begin the season on Nov. 25.

“I'm hoping by the end of this week we’ll have it,” Izzo said. “I mean, we're really close. I'll be honest with you, I think we've got 90% of it. It's just all the contractual things because you don't know what could happen, so that's the only holdup right now. I think I feel pretty comfortable that we got at least six of our (non-conference) games (scheduled).”

One game has been confirmed, Michigan State’s matchup with No. 4 Virginia on Dec. 9 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a game that will be played in Charlottesville. The Spartans also will host Notre Dame on Nov. 28, according to a schedule released this week by the Fighting Irish, and a source has confirmed Michigan State will play at Duke on Dec. 1 as part of the Champions Classic.

Hoggard 'doing great' after surgery

It was revealed earlier this week that freshman guard A.J. Hoggard had minor surgery on his right knee but would be back for the start of the season.

Izzo confirmed that on Wednesday and said it could hinder Hoggard’s development in the short term, but isn’t a long-term concern.

“It  was a very minor scope that's usually a 10-day to two-week deal,” Izzo said of the procedure that took place on Nov. 3. We’re hoping within the next week he'll be back. It hurt some because of the timing of it, but at the same time, A.J. I think has got a chance to be a key part, too. The surgery went very well and was just a little cleanup job and he seems to be doing great.”

Twitter: @mattcharboneau