Eleven months since his last appearance, Wembley hero Scott McManus finally made his comeback from injury on Easter Monday.
McManus scored the winning goal in the FA Trophy final at Wembley on May 22, before sustaining a cruciate ligament injury later in the same game that has seen him out of action ever since.
But he was brought on as a 73rd minute substitute in the 3-0 win at Harrogate on Monday after being unexpectedly named on the bench.
“I think it’s been about nine-and-a-half months since the operation,” he said. “I think I’ve done quite well to get back. I’ve put a lot of work in for that 20 minute cameo. I couldn’t be happier really. It would have been easier not having to do it and if I wasn’t intending to still play football I could have sat back and done nothing, but I’m too young to give up playing. Plus, if I did, my son would kill me! I don’t want him to think that not playing football’s alright. I want to be a role model to him, so I’ve worked incredibly hard to get back and be as half as fit as I am.
“I feel fit but my match fitness will take a while. If I’m going to get that by having 20 minute cameos or being thrown in at the deep end, either way I’ll just give my all for the club like I have for the last six or seven years.”
Billy Heath was short of defensive back-up for the game due to Cliff Moyo’s hamstring injury and Danny Hone being unavailable after a family bereavement.
“I got told to bring my stuff for the game,” McManus said. “I knew there were a few knocks and that maybe I might squeeze on, but I was the only defensive cover so I had to be on the bench really. But I’m just glad of the opportunity and finally get some minutes.
“It was a bit weird going into central midfield but I’ll take any appearance at the minute, whether it be central midfield, left back, left wing, whichever. I’m just glad to get some minutes and play in front of the fans again.
“I can’t thank the fans enough. I hope I can do it again in the next game, or whenever. I hope they keep it up.”