Everton loan defender Ryan Astley is hoping to force his way back into first team contention for tomorrow’s visit of Oxford United after injury.
The 21-year-old has been out for a month with a knee injury but, after three successive wins for the Reds, knows his place isn’t guaranteed tomorrow after returning to full-time training.
Stanley, in 19th place, come up against United who have climbed the table to 13th place and are unbeaten in all competitions in eight games.
“It’s very frustrating especially when it happens in training,” said Astley. “I was lucky as I could have been out for the season but it was only four weeks and I have done the recovery well and I am feeling good now.
“I try and look at the positives but it is hard missing games and watching the lads as you just want to be out there.
“The three 1-0 wins have meant the confidence in the group is back up to where it should be and it’s showing on the pitch. The mood is completely different, everything is lifted.
“The lads are flying, they are doing well, and we need to carry that onto into tomorrow.
“I am not guaranteed to get back in the team and that keeps me driving to succeed here, to keep playing. I know the challenges are here and I am looking forward to. I love playing and I want to be straight back in.”
Stanley are six points clear of the relegation places and won in the league last time out but that was their first win in eight League games and Astley knows they have to build on it.
“The win over Cambridge was massive, it makes a big difference to get three points, but we need a more wins, we need to push up the table and not look back. We want to keep pushing forward and I believe we can do that.
“The lads have a lot of character, they will do anything for the team to get the win.
“On the training pitch everyone knows if they have to slot in somewhere, what to do, where to be.
“The whole team is working together better. Everyone has been solid, it starts from the front and we have defended well as a team.”
Welsh Under-21 international Astley says he is enjoying his first loan spell away from Goodison Park.
“I have learnt a lot already and want to keep learning. Coming from the Under-21 environment to a first team environment, I am loving it.
“Before I came here, when I heard about teams needing to win you just think ok yet when you come here, you realise how much points mean. I have wanted this for a while.
“The fans here are great, as long as you work hard and give everything, they will always been behind us.”
The full pre-match interview with Ryan Astley is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!