Michael Nottingham aims to make a big impact in the second half of the campaign with Accrington Stanley still battling on three fronts, starting tonight in the Emirates FA Cup.
The 33-year-old defender hasn’t played for the Reds since April but came on for the final ten minutes of the 3-1 loss at Barnsley last Saturday, winning a penalty.
Now the fans' favourite's immediate focus is on helping Stanley past National League side Boreham Wood at the Wham Stadium tonight in the FA Cup Third Round replay, with Leeds at home awaiting the winners.
“Being back on the pitch has been a long time coming,” said Nottingham. “It’s been a tough six or seven months since the injury but my last game was nine months ago.
“I don’t know how I did it, it is quite a rare injury. I started with problems in the second week of pre-season, it didn’t hurt that much but I knew there was a problem.
“I had a scan and they found a 4cm tear in one of my tendons on my foot, one of the important ones.
“I didn’t think it would be a long injury but we tried rehab without surgery and wasted 8-10 weeks, that was my decision, it was my fault as I had never had surgery before.
“But the tear never closed up so we had to go down the surgical route and that put me back.
“Now though it’s got the job done and I am happy to be back doing what I love the most.
“I felt emotional going back out there on the pitch at Barnsley. It was a nice feeling, the result wasn’t what we wanted but for me, it was something I struggled to see a couple of months ago and it was getting hard. I was so thankful I kept going with the process.
“Now every day is a progressive day, I am not where I want to be right now but strong enough to train and compete and if called upon, I can play games of football.”
The Reds are battling relegation in League One and are also in the Papa Johns Trophy semi-final but firstly it’s the FA Cup, something Nottingham loves.
“It’s a massive incentive for the club and it’s huge for me. I have never been involved in an FA Cup Third Round tie so it’s a big thing. It's the magic of the cup. There is a buzz around the place and so there should be. It will be tough but we will give everything.
“We will be favourites but every man out there tonight will have to put a full shift in to make sure the job gets done. We need to impose ourselves and take the game to them."
The full pre-match interview with Michael Nottingham is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!