Gary Bowyer paid tribute to Jim McAlister after the midfielder made his long-awaited return after a leg injury.
The 32-year-old came off the bench during the second half of Blackpool’s Checkatrade Trophy third-round tie at Shrewsbury Town last night, which the Seasiders lost 4-2 on penalties after drawing 0-0.
It was a priceless 30-minute cameo for the tough-tackling midfielder, who has not placed since fracturing a tibia in the 1-1 draw with Colchester United in February last year.
Manager Bowyer spoke of his delight at seeing McAlister return and even expressed his surprise at how close he appears to be to league action.
“Jim was never going to pull out of that first tackle,” the Pool boss said.
“What was funny was that a minute later he was trying to breathe but could hardly speak and get his lungs.
“He got stronger as the game went on and I’m absolutely delighted for him because what a guy he is, first and foremost as a person.
“The effort he has put in to get back playing has been tremendous considering it has gone on longer than your normal broken leg.
“He’s had setbacks, but in true Jim spirit he bounced back and it was a delight to see him back on the pitch.
“He’s shown me he’s not that far off. I thought he’d be further off than he was.
“A lot of that is down to his heart and how much he wants it. He’s a great example and some of the lads need to watch him because of his desire.”