DEFENDER Paul Linwood is delighted to be back for Fleetwood Town, though his big day was nearly scuppered by another team-mate on the comeback trail.
Centre-half Linwood returned after knee surgery in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Newport County and came through his first game since New Year’s Day unscathed ... well, almost.
The Newport equaliser caused some anxiety on the Town bench as it resulted in Linwood and two team-mates lying injured – skipper Steve McNulty and keeper Danny Hurst, who was making his comeback after six months out with a shoulder injury.
And Linwood revealed: “Hursty was great on Saturday and dominated his area. You don’t mind being clattered by your keeper at times but he elbowed me in the back of the head and punched Macca on the cheek! Cheers, mate!’
Linwood was substituted as a precaution after 77 minutes and explained: “I had a slight hamstring pull. There was a touch of cramp and tiredness in the legs after a long lay-off, nothing more.”
Having missed 11 games, the 27-year-old from the Wirral is anxious to make up for lost time. “I’ve got to try to play all nine remaining games now and hopefully be part of a play-off push.
“Saturday’s game was a long time coming but it’s great to get back. To be part of a winning team has made it extra special.
“The confidence can take a bit of a knock after a long lay-off but after a few early touches I felt fine. The timing was a bit off on one or two headers at the start but that will return.
“Newport were a good side and a bit awkward, with a couple of big strong lads able to cause trouble. We conceded a sloppy equaliser but showed a lot of character to come back and the lads worked really hard.”
And apart from that minor assault by his goalkeeper, the player signed from Grimsby last summer is feeling good: “I’ve been fortunate with injuries throughout my career. This is probably one of the worst I’ve had and it’s still not a really bad one.”
“I would like to pay tribute to the treatment I’ve been getting from the physios. I’ve had a brilliant time here in my first season.
“The chairman and manager have loads of ambition and it’s probably the most professional club I’ve played at.”
*TOWN now find themselves two points outside the play-off places after fifth-placed Kidderminster’s goalless draw with new Blue Square Bet Premier leaders Crawley Town last night. Luton and Wrexham consolidated their play-off positions with wins.