Mark Howard says it’s up to Simon Grayson to decide when he’ll make his long-awaited first-team return for Blackpool.
The 33-year-old featured for the the first time in seven months earlier this week when he played 45 minutes in Blackpool’s reserve clash against Morecambe.
It was Howard’s first taste of action since undergoing surgery, having ruptured his Achilles during a game against Burton Albion in March.
The shot-stopper came through Wednesday’s Central League Cup game unscathed and now has his eyes firmly set on a return to the first team.
“I’m happy to get back playing,” Howard told The Gazette.
“It’s not nice being out injured, so it’s been a long six months and a bit. But I’ve been working hard to get back to this point.
“It was nice to get back out there and play again because I’ve missed a lot of football.
“I’ve missed 16 first-team games and every one of them hurts, having to watch and not being involved.
“It’s nice to feel like I’m getting there and getting closer again.”
On his current level of fitness, Howard added: “I feel fine.
“While it’s been a long time out I’ve had no setbacks and everything has gone really smoothly.
“I’m experienced enough now to know what it takes to come back from an injury so it was just a case of getting my head down and working hard.
“I always knew I would get out of it what I put in and if you take a shortcut when you’re injured it will be noticeable when you’re trying to get back.
“I’ve had to work really hard to get to this point but I feel good and I feel confident. I just want to get back in the mix now.
“As for when I will return to the first team, it all depends on the gaffer’s thoughts.
“Obviously I want to play as many games as possible. This reserve game was a good step to coming back, so we’ll just see where it takes us.
“I can’t say when I will be back, that’s up for the manager to decide.”
While Howard is aiming to win back his number one spot, he knows he’ll have a challenge on his hands dethroning current first-choice Jak Alnwick.
“The team is doing well and Jak is doing really well,” Howard said.
“My personal goal was just to get myself back in contention and get myself back fit, so I haven’t really had a chance to think about.
“Jak is playing really well in the first team who are picking up some really good results.”