Influential Mansfield Town midfielder Joel Byrom is delighted to be back from a six week injury nightmare.
It seemed so innocuous when Byrom completed the home game with Wycombe with a pain in his foot.
But it has ended up sidelining him much longer than he thought and in that time the Stags have slumped without his passing and set piece deliveries.
Byrom successfully came through 55 minutes of Tuesday’s 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy win at Notts County and is now hoping to be in the squad for Saturday’s visit of Exeter City.
“It’s been a frustrating time so it was just brilliant to get out there with the lads on Tuesday,” he said.
“Watching from the stands and not travelling to away games is tough.”
On the injury, he said: “It felt like forever. It was a frustrating one as it was a muscle in the bottom of my foot and ended up being a slow one.
“It took a bit longer than I thought it would, but the phsyios probably said it would be six weeks at the start so they were right.
“It happened during the Wycombe game. I was chasing a guy and I felt a little pop under my foot.
“I got through the game in pain and next day it was sore. I went for a scan and they said I had a grade two tear under my foot.
“I was out for quite a while when I was younger but in the last few seasons this has been the longest.”
He continued: “I am not normally one for getting injured. I just want to put it behind me now and help push the team up the table.
“I don’t really like watching games when I’m not involved so I did quite a bit of radio work in the press box which was good for my university degree and also seeing games in a totally different light. I enjoyed it.
“When you’re just sat at home you miss football.”
Byrom hoped he may get to play on Tuesday but wasn’t counting his chickens.
“I’d only trained with the lads for one day,” he said. “I was half-hoping I would get some minutes though I thought it could be a bit early. I was happy to play in the end and come through unscathed.
“The gaffer spoke to me at half-time and asked how I felt. I said I felt fine and he offered me another 10 minutes.
“I felt surprisingly good yesterday and I feel good again today, so I will just push on to the weekend.”
On the win, he said: “I thought we looked comfortable from the start and they scored against the run of play.
“That’s something we need to cut out. When we are on top of games we need to start putting teams to bed.
“We showed great character to go on and win it. CJ Hamilton scored a great goal and I thought we looked comfortable near the end.”
Now the Stags prepare to face high-flying Exeter and Byrom said: “They are a good side. On Tuesday a lot of changes were made and we had a positive result, so all that goes into the manager’s head.
“We now have a good squad for the manager to pick from for a team that can beat Exeter.
“It was just good to get back and even better to get a win. Hopefully that can kick us on now until the end of the season.
“Everyone is beating everyone and no one is really running away with it in League Two. We know what Exeter will be about. They are always a strong side and they try to play nice football.
“That suits us as we might get a little bit more time on the ball and a bit more time to play. I think it will be a good game.
“We are still well in with a shout of the play-offs and the automatic spots if we go on a good run. Once you get on a decent run at this level it’s tough to stop teams.
“We need to get back to basics and win some games.”
One of manager Evans’ first signings, Byrom has already been with the club almost 11 months.
“It’s gone fast,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like two minutes ago when I was stepping out at Blackpool last year. It’s been a good year really.”