“It was last February, against Ebbsfleet at home. A long time ago” - Josh Macdonald had to trawl back 18 months to recall his last game for FC Halifax Town before this weekend.
The winger has endured a nightmare spell on the sidelines since limping out of Town’s 2-1 defeat to Ebbsfleet back on February 17 last year - two days before the appointment of Jamie Fullarton.
But he appeared as an 82nd minute substitute against Fylde on Saturday, to a rapturous reception from the Halifax supporters, and played another six minutes at Barrow on Bank Holiday Monday.
“I hurt my knee in a tackle, and got told it was something else, so I rehabed that. I think it was something like two months,” said Macdonald, who joined Town back in 2015.
“I came back into training and did it even worse. I intercepted a ball, planted my foot and it just gave way.
“I knew straight away, it swelled up. Went for a scan the day after and they told me I’d done my cruciate, but you could just tell.
“It was hard to take at the time but you’ve just got to turn a negative into a positive as quickly as you can.
“If you rehab it properly hopefully you don’t have any problems.”
The 24-year-old is confident he has now fully recovered.
“To be fair, the first few months were dragging and dragging, but when I could do more stuff it started to speed up,” he said. “I’m happy I’m back now.
“There are a lot of things you can work on that you can’t when you’re playing games, so I’ve done a lot of gym work, worked on my lower legs. I feel strong in training.
“I’ve got a bit more knowledge of the gym side of what I need to do and to keep on top of.
“It is a bad injury but I kept a positive mindset.
“It’s quite common now, a lot of people have it.
“I think if you do your rehab properly, do everything by the book, you shouldn’t have any problems.”
Macdonald did the lion’s share of his recuperation back in his native north-east.
“Sanmi (Odelusi) was injured, so he helped me get through it at times,” the winger said.
“When I was at home it was quite lonely, but you’ve got to get through it.
“My family helped me massively.
“The club were excellent. They said I didn’t have to come in, they helped me find someone close to home.
“I did my rehab at home. Then after Christmas the old gaffer said I could come in on a Friday which got me involved a bit more, gave me a bit of motivation to see what was happening.
“I came to the games as well which also made me want to get back out there.
“The physio I saw, he was a massive help. He reckons it’s just a myth that you lose your pace.
“He told me if you work hard, you’ll get results.
“I played in a game last Thursday and I didn’t feel like I’d lost any pace.
“I just need to get games now and get sharper.”
Macdonald didn’t play a minute of football under previous manager Jamie Fullarton, but his initial impressions of his successor Pete Wild have been very positive.
“I got a little niggle in pre-season for a week, but that’s expected. With the injury I had you’re going to get setbacks, but I’m just happy it only set me back a week,” he said.
“The new gaffer has come in and he’s been absolutely spot on, I can’t thank him any more.
“He’s been patient and let me come back on.
“I had a warm welcome from the fans, it’s been a long time, but I’m just happy to get back out there.
“I’ve been here a long time now, the fans are excellent.
“It was nice to hear them singing.”
Macdonald is prepared to be patient for his chance in the starting 11 after such a long time on the sidelines.
“I don’t want to think about it now, I’m trying to get back on the pitch, get more minutes and get some starts,” he added.
“The gaffer said I can’t get straight back in, which I understand, because we’re doing well.
“I’m going to bide my time and hopefully I can take my chance.
“The boys have been excellent, we couldn’t have asked for a better start.
“We beat a very good team in Fylde. If we can keep going then anything can happen.
“I’ve said to the gaffer that the way he plays, it’s going to suit me a lot.
“That’s encouraging me to get back as quick as I can and show him what I can do.”