Jim McAlister has revealed his frustration at spending an extended period out of the team for the first time in his career.
The midfielder has 26 appearances under his belt this season, although up until the Hartlepool game on Boxing Day he hadn’t had a start in the league since October.
The 31-year-old has been an ever present wherever he has been in his career and admits his lack of starts has taken some getting used to.
He said: “It’s the first time in my career I’ve not been in the team for so long and it’s not been easy.
“I got a runout in the two away games (against Hartlepool and Grimsby) where we picked up four points, and I felt as though I was getting stronger as the games went on.
“Obviously it takes a while to get back after being out for so long, but the manager obviously had different ideas for the Mansfield game and wanted to freshen it up.”
McAlister, who has been with the Seasiders since July 2015, has had to battle with Danny Pugh, Jack Payne and Michael Cain for a starting berth.
But the Scot admits he can have no complaints if the players who are ahead of him are performing well and the team are picking up results.
“I’m 31 now and it’s the first time I’ve had an extended period where I haven’t played,” he added.
“I try and set targets in my head. The last one was to start my 500th game, which was at Everton in the Checkatrade Trophy, but I haven’t really played since which has been really frustrating.
“But to be fair to the team, they went on a good run of results and if that happens, you can’t really complain.
“If you go into the team and don’t perform when you lose games, then you haven’t really got a leg to stand on.
“But if you go in and do OK when the team are picking up points, then you’ve got more of a reason to go knocking on the gaffer’s door.”
McAlister was speaking ahead of today’s FA Cup third round tie against Barnsley at Bloomfield Road – a game he is gunning to start in.
“It’s nice to switch off from the league for a bit which is always nice when you’ve had a run of games over the Christmas period,” he said.
“It’s an FA Cup tie where all the pressure is going to be on Barnsley, being two leagues above us.”