JAMIE McGuire could be the man behind the mask for Fleetwood Town.
The battling midfielder has a metal plate in his face after suffering a major cheekbone fracture in the final away game of last season at Cambridge, and that may not be the only protection he requires as he begins training in earnest in readiness for Town’s debut season in the Football League.
The 28-year-old explained: “The injury is not too bad but my face still blows up a little and there’s a bit of swelling. I have to be careful and may have to wear a mask when I start kicking the ball, but we’ll see what happens.”
McGuire, who made 38 appearances in Town’s title-winning Conference campaign, hopes to receive the all-clear to report in for pre-season training with the rest of the squad on Thursday.
However, he realises he’ll have to take it easy at first and will start behind his team-mates in the fitness stakes after an enforced rest in recent weeks.
He added: “I have to let it heal. It’s been a bit of a pain because I’ve only had about four days on holiday. The rest of the time has basically been resting. I have done a few runs but nothing crazy.
“I’ve had two months off really to have a good rest, which I needed after a long season.
“There’s a bit of nerve damage but hopefully it won’t affect my pre-season routine. Getting fit is what pre-season is for and it will be tough in Austria.”
McGuire admits there is a bridge to cross when it comes to resuming his uncompromising playing style. “Heading the ball is my game, but if I take a knock on my face I don’t know what will happen.
“But I have to get that out of my head mentally. I’m an all-action player and I put my head in where it hurts, but hopefully I’ll be fine.”
One match McGuire would love to test himself out in is the friendly at home to former club Tranmere on August 4.
He added; “That’s where I started as a trainee. It will be good to see some old faces there and my best mate Danny Harrision (a fellow central midfielder) has just signed for them, so it will be good to play against him.”
McGuire is impressed by Town’s summer signings, none more so than fellow midfielder Damien Johnson.
“We’ve made quality signings and it only makes us stronger,” he said.
“Damien Johnson is very experienced and has just won the League One play-offs with Huddersfield. I played against him at Tranmere, when he was in a Blackburn Reserves side, and he has been there and done it.
“I’ve played against (newly-signed striker) Steven Gillespie before too and he makes the scouse contingent here even stronger. The new players will settle in because we make everyone welcome.
“We are one of the favourites to win the league already, I’m hearing, but we have a lot of hard work in pre-season before everyone gels.
“Some lads have moved on, which is sad but that’s football.”