Jim McAlister is back in training at Blackpool but his next challenge is a mental hurdle as he prepares for that first tackle.
McAlister fractured a tibia in Blackpool’s 1-1 draw with Colchester in February and has been out of action ever since.
The 31-year-old midfielder is training with the physio as he builds up the strength and confidence to return to full training with the first team.
And McAlister hopes that first tackle and his return to competitive action comes sooner rather than later as his team-mates prepare to return to action at Walsall on Saturday.
Talking about the next step on his road to recovery, he said: “You think about what happens when you have physical contact and that first tackle is one of the first mental hurdles to get over.
“I’m taking it a week at a time with the physio, and as long as I keep improving hopefully I won’t be too far away from being back involved and doing a full session with the boys.
“It’s been good to get out of that gym because for the majority of the time I’ve been in there by myself.
“I’m slowly but surely starting to get confident striking the ball again. Some of the sessions I’m doing on the grass with the physio are now involving the football so that I can get a feel for it. That’s another hurdle to get over.”
And McAlister says his recent experiences have forced him to change his mindset. He admits he is now more likely to heed the advice of the experts than he was.
He said: “I don’t know if it’s done me more harm than good over the years, but I maybe went against physios and people giving me advice because you just want to play all the time.
“You’ve maybe played through injuries and that’s maybe an old school thing.
“This being slightly more serious, when I’ve been told to take a step back and take a few days off, I’ve had to do it and it’s stood me in good stead. It’s been hard but hopefully I can now kick on.”
And all those matches watching from the sidelines could be beneficial.
“I’ve never had an extended period of watching football from the stand before and you can learn so much from watching," he said.
“Even though you’re older, you’re never too old to learn. That can improve you as a player.”
Former Blackpool winger Jason Wilcox has been appointed academy director at Manchester City.
The 46-year-old, who won the Premier League with Blackburn in 1995, had been in the role on an interim basis since June, having joined City’s academy staff in 2012.