ANDY Mangan is relieved to have got through his first 90 minutes of football since September.
The Fleetwood forward played in a specially arranged friendly against a strong Blackpool side earlier this week – his first full game since Town’s trip to Bristol Rovers.
Town lost 4-1 on the day but Mangan was just happy to be back on the pitch - his season interupted by a major knee injury.
He said: It was my first 90 in five-and-a-half months.
“The first 45 minutes I felt really sharp and then in the second half I just blew up.
“I don’t mind admitting that.
“Games like that are all about getting your fitness back and that’s what we were doing.
“I’m relieved to have got through it and it’s great to be back playing again.”
Mangan, Fleetwood’s second top goalscorer in last season’s Conference promotion campaign, was called on to mentor some of the club’s younger players in the behind closed doors game - in which 18-year-old Nathan Parish scored a late consolation.
He said: “It was a good game.
“I was playing with a lot of kids. I was talking them through things and giving them a lot of support out there.
“It was great to be involved.”
The 26-year-old was named as a substitute in Saturday’s victory over Dagenham and Redbridge and although he admits he was disappointed not to be involved on the pitch, Mangan was pleased to see his team-mates bag a vital three points.
“I would have loved to come on and had some time on the pitch,” he told The Gazette.
“The gaffer said before kick off that I’d come on if it was needed, but we were winning and it probably wasn’t the time.
“I was happy just to be there for the lads and part of things again.”
Mangan had surgery in October on torn knee cartilege - a problem it took medical staff weeks to diagnose.
Since then he’s undergone months of rehabilitation, returning to training last month.
It’s been a frustrating time on the sidelines for Mangan, watching his team-mates’ stop start season - which has left them three points off the playoffs with six games remaining.
“I’m used to winning,” admits Mangan.
“I won’t say since I’ve been at Fleetwood we’ve won every game, but sometimes it feels like that.
“It’s been three or four years when we’ve never been far off the top spot.
“So of course it’s been frustrating, with the ups and downs.
“If my coming back co-incides with the team going on a run and getting in the playoffs, that would be great.”
Mangan believes Fleetwood have the ability to pull off a late turn round in fortunes - starting against league-leaders Gillingham on Saturday.
“It’s great game on Saturday, Gillingham coming here.
“Of course everyone will have them down as favourites.
“But we’ve got the ability in the side.
“It’s going to be tough but with the players we have at Fleetwood we can beat anyone.”
After Saturday, Fleetwood travel to Southend for an Easter Monday encounter with Southend United - now under the guidance of Phil Brown.
There are less than 48 hours between the two fixtures, but Mangan believes Graham Alexander has the players at his disposal to handle the busy weekend.
He said: “The manager said when he came in the squad was too big.
“But this is where having a big squad pays dividends.
“We’ll be able to go to Southend and make changes if we need to.
“We’ll go down there fresh and ready for it.
“If that means I’ll get a chance, great.”
And there’s belief in the Fleetwood camp, after Saturday’s win over The Daggers, a late push can secure a playoff spot.
Mangan said: “There’s always one side who comes through with a run at the end of the season.
“Why can’t that be Fleetwood Town?”