Blackpool striker Mark Cullen is chomping at the bit to make his long-awaited return to action having admitted his six-month absence has felt ‘like a lifetime.’
The 25-year-old has been sidelined for almost half a year after being forced to undergo hamstring surgery in October.
But he returned to training this week and it is now hoped he will feature in a friendly in the next week or two.
Cullen, who was Blackpool’s Wembley hero in last season’s League Two play-off final, is delighted to be back in contention.
“It feels like it’s been a lifetime but it’s great to be back,” he said.
“I’m still taking every day as it comes and I’m focusing on getting through one training session at a time.
“It’s hard watching on from the sidelines, I must be the worst fan ever.
“I’ve been pulling my hair out at times, especially when the results aren’t going our way.
“I think I’m a right-back sometimes, so I kick every ball when I’m up there so it is really frustrating. But it’s part and parcel of the game.
“But hopefully I can get back into good shape now and get back into the squad before the end of the season.”
Having shook off a pre-season foot injury, Cullen made three appearances at the start of the new season.
But his campaign was cut short when he picked up an injury on a hamstring in training.
He added: “It was the last kick of the session just before the game away at Southend.
“I’d had a good week’s training after being out for six weeks with a similar injury.
“But to be fair it was probably for the best it happened then rather than in a game, because that would have been a bigger blow.
“So it’s just one of those things and you have to get on with it.
“Now it’s the best it’s been but I’ve had a few setbacks along the way. So just to get through a training session without having a reaction is such a good thing for me.
“It’s been the best part of six months I’ve been injured for, so to be training back with the lads is great.
“I just need to wait. The gaffer wants me to play in some type of reserve fixture just to get some minutes into my legs so hopefully we can get one of those organised in the next week or so.
“Then we will go from there, but at the moment I’m just enjoying being back.
“I’ve come a long way and there’s been times where I thought I’d never run again or kick a ball again.
“It’s so hard mentally, it’s tough coming in and watching the lads train.
“But I’m the sort of person who tries to keep their head up, there’s not a lot else I can do other than trying to improve and become better than I was before.”