Mansfield Town striker Craig Davies eyes return to first-team squad at Portugal pre-season training camp after long injury lay-off

Craig Davies.'PHOTO: Anne Shelley
Craig Davies.'PHOTO: Anne Shelley

Injury-hit striker Craig Davies says he hopes to be on the plane to Portugal this summer for Mansfield Town’s pre-season training camp ahead of a “big season”.

Davies, 33, was left frustrated as he missed most of last season due to an ankle problem that eventually required two operations – one on each ankle.

Stags' Craig Davies.'PHOTO: Howard Roe

Stags' Craig Davies.'PHOTO: Howard Roe

The forward scored twice in 14 games before he finally gave in to the troublesome injury and agreed to an operation.

But now after the long lay-off he is closing in on the final stages of his recovery and expects to join the rest of the squad in Amendoeira at the beginning of July.

“Since the season has finished, I’ve just been in (at One Call Stadium) cracking on with my work and trying to get right for next season,” he said.

“I had two operations – one on each ankle – so I was out for quite a while, which has been really frustrating. But the staff have been really good with me.

“I’m approaching the final stages (of my recovery) now. Hopefully I should be back with the boys in pre-season.

“I’m looking forward to it (new season) because it’s been a frustrating time and a long time out.

“It’s a big season for me personally. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.”

Davies, who joined the Stags a year ago for an undisclosed fee from Oldham, said he was a frustrated spectator as his team-mates just failed to win promotion from League Two. But the striker said they would learn from the experience.

“It (last season) was frustrating. I’ve never been out (with injury) for that long,” he added in an interview on mansfieldtown.net.

“We just missed out at that last hurdle and that was frustrating as well. I’m sure next season, that will push us on and hopefully we go that one step further.

“There were moments during the season watching the boys when I was thinking ‘I wish I was out there.’ At the last game of the season against MK Dons, I was probably worse than the coaching staff shouting on the bench.

“All of the players will have learned from the last couple of months and hopefully that will be what we need to get over the line and push in the right direction.

“If I was fully fit and firing on all cylinders (last season), I think there were a few games that I could have made an impact in.

“I was struggling with my ankle even before the operation. I’d been struggling with it for about two months previous before I said ‘I can’t do this anymore’.”

Davies said he was keen to work with new manager John Dempster.

“He has done well with the younger boys,” said the striker. “I spoke to him at the end of the season, and he seems up for the task and excited by the prospect of it.

“I’m hoping he’ll do well and push us over the line.

“We all spoke to him individually and I had a good conversation with him. I’m looking forward to it.”

Davies also revealed that his way of coping with his long lay-off was to help other players “to move forward in their own careers, and do things that maybe I didn’t do as much when I was their age.

“Tyler [Walker] is someone who I get on with quite well, so I used to speak to him off the pitch as well as on it.

“He is a very good player and I think he will go far. “So any time I could offer some help to him, I did that.”