Injury victim Matty Brown can finally see the grass at the end of the tunnel after not playing for Halifax since their FA Trophy win at Wembley in May.
That is the centre-back’s only appearance for Town in the last six months due to a persistent ankle problem.
It has been a long road back for Brown, who has trained on an anti-gravity treadmill at the National Football Centre at St George’s Park as part of his recovery and has undergone surgery to resolve the injury, which he now hopes is behind him.
“I did some running before the Stalybridge game for the first time since the first day of pre-season,” he said.
“That was a good little milestone for me. It’s about building that strength back up and as soon as I can get back on that pitch the better.
“I’ve been at St George’s Park over the last two or three weeks getting treatment, which has pushed me on a bit.
“I think I’m maybe another week away from being available so I need to introduce some changes of direction into my running and then hopefully I can join in with training if I’m pain-free.”
Brown picked up the injury during Halifax’s FA Trophy semi-final, first-leg at Nantwich on March 12.
“One of their lads caught me with a really late tackle,” Brown recalled.
“It was disappointing for it to happen that way. I don’t mind if it’s from a normal tackle, but it was an intentional foul.
“I felt something at the time but thought it was a bang and carried on playing.
“But I was out from then until Wembley. I played through the pain in that game and then the first day of pre-season I felt it again.
“The people I saw said I should have had it operated on at the time but I just wanted to play (at Wembley) so much.
“It was a stupid really, I should have had the operation there and then.
“But (Wembley) might not come round again so I played half-fit.
“I had a few injections to get through the game but they didn’t really work, they just disguised the pain, they didn’t get rid of it.
“They got me through the game but in hindsight it’s probably done a bit more damage.
“In hindsight people might say I should have got the op done so I was ready for the start of the season, but I’m just looking forward to getting back now.”
Brown was operated on at Clifton Park Hospital in York by surgeon Adam Budgen, who has performed similar procedures on professional rugby players.
Brown admits to feeling impatient during his recovery period.
“I’m always trying to bite off a little bit more whereas the gaffer’s trying to keep the reins on me,” he said.
“He’s said ‘I know you want to be back but we need to make sure it’s right’, which is good advice.
“That keeps me motivated to get back.
“The gaffer’s been great with me. He’s been in contact every single week to see how I am.
“He’s been great in terms of giving me time at home with my physio so I’m not travelling and letting it swell up.”
The former Chester defender admits Town haven’t been at their best so far this season but is optimistic the squad is good enough to recover from its sluggish start.
“It’s been hit and miss,” he added. “We started off really well but then we got the two defeats on the bounce, a few draws.
“But we’ve got a good squad and we all believe in each other.
“It’s just about getting that cohesion and everyone getting on the same wavelength.
“As soon as that starts clicking, I’m sure we’ll start steamrolling teams because we’ve got the weapons in that dressing room to be a force at this level.
“It’s still early days but once we start clicking we’ll start moving up the table a lot more.”