JAMIE Milligan is hoping to prove his manager wrong by earning a starting place in Fleetwood Town’s opening Blue Square Bet Premier match at Grimsby on Saturday.
A week ago, Town boss Mellon named the veteran midfielder in a list of seven players he had ruled out of the visit to Blundell Park.
That was just days after Milligan had made his first pre-season friendly appearance as a second-half substitute against Oldham, but Mellon said the 31-year-old was way behind his team-mates in the fitness stakes, and had hardly trained since a summer knee operation.
Since then, Milligan has got another solid half of football under his belt in Saturday’s win at Kendal and he was due to feature again in yesterday’s behind-closed-doors friendly.
And although Mellon repeated this week that the club’s talisman still had some catching up to do, he was clearly prepared to give Milligan every opportunity to prove his fitness.
And the dead-ball specialist is determined to seize his chance.
He said: “This is the fittest I’ve felt in God knows how many years, and we’ll see how it goes. I hope I’ll have a chance of starting at Grimsby.”
He was pleased with Saturday’s run-out at Kendal, where he laid on Town’s second goal for fellow midfielder Keith Briggs.
Milligan added: “It was a good runout. The lads in the first half did well and the second half was brilliant.
“I’ve played at Kendal in the past and it has been a bog, but the pitch was decent on Saturday. They are a decent side too.”
Milligan certainly enjoyed putting over some teasing corners to torment Kendal’s former Town keeper Craig Dootson.
He joked: “Dootsy is still flapping at corners and he needs to work on his handling, but he made some good saves.”
Former Town skipper Milligan, who has been with the club since 2005 apart from a few months with AFC Fylde at the start of last season, was this week linked with a return to Blackpool FC as a youth coach.
But he was totally focused on putting his injury problems behind him and starting the season with Town.
“I don’t feel the knee at all when I’m playing but sometimes it’s a little sore the morning after,” he continued.
“But I have worked hard with the physio and on my own in the afternoons when the other lads have not been around.”