Wembley hero Scott McManus sees no reason why he can’t come back the same player as he nears the end of his recovery from injury.
McManus scored the stunning winner in Town’s 1-0 FA Trophy final win against Grimsby last May before sustaining a cruciate ligament injury later in the game, and hasn’t played since.
McManus feels he is a couple of weeks away from a return to full fitness and he is set to join in with the rest of the squad at training, something which he views as a significant milestone in his long recovery.
“I think it’s up to the gaffer when he thinks I’m fit enough. I’ve been doing my own training sessions away from the club to save me travelling in. It’s just been running, some change of direction work and swimming at a gym. And I go with a couple of my mates so it’s been quite fun.
“I’m about to join in with the lads now and it feels alright. My first session back was last Thursday. It wasn’t really too intense because the lads had loads of things to go through for the Bradford game.
“Considering it was about eight months ago since I last kicked a football it’s a milestone to be able to do that again.
“I’m not fit enough to play yet I don’t think, but it’s just when the gaffer thinks I’m ready.”
McManus is not worried about a possible recurrence of the injury, and is already thinking about his first tackle when he returns to action.
“Since I got told I could run in a straight line all I’ve done is work on my fitness,” he said. “I’ve only been able to do changing direction and shorter bursts more recently. But Bobby (assistant boss Mark Carroll) put me though my paces before the Alfreton match and I did alright with that.
“I’ve waited long enough now and I’ve had the all clear from the specialist so if it happens again it’s one of those things. It’s not going to be something I’m scared of. If it happens, it happens. If I want to play football again I can’t go back into it being scared of it happening again, just like I wasn’t scared of it happening the first time. It was just a freak accident like I’m sure it would be a second time. There’s probably more chance of it happening again now it has happened but the specialist said it’s strong enough, I feel like it’s strong enough and my pace is coming back. I just need to worry about getting into the team.
“My intention is to take a heavy touch and then go and smash whoever I can and see how it holds up!
“The first tackle won’t be anything I’ll shy away from. I’m just going to have to stick myself into it and hope for the best really.”
McManus said his time on the sidelines has had some benefits, but he admits having purposefully stayed away from first-team training during his recovery.
“I’ve been doing my own training sessions to stay off the astroturf but that’s because I’d be more frustrated having to come and just do a bit of running on my own when everyone else is training,” he said.
“I’ve just tried to get my mind away from being negative and stay positive.
“I’ve had the bonus of being able to take my son to football on Saturday mornings, which I’ve never been able to do, so I’ve tried to take the positives.
“It made him happier to have me watch him playing instead of having to miss it, which was always hard, so it was nice to do that. But I’ve been doing it for too long now, I want to get back playing.”
The Town defender is bullish about the club’s promotion prospects, and his chances of playing a part.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” he added. “It was always going to be hard. It We’ve had a brand new team that needed time to gel.
“We went through the play-offs last time in the Conference North so why not do it again?
“I’ve had a few messages off people saying ‘come back for the play-off final and score the winning goal’ which would be nice.”