Blackpool captain Jimmy Ryan was delighted to end his “nightmare” campaign on a positive note.
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The 30-year-old returned from a 12-month absence to play the second half of Blackpool’s final game of the season against Gillingham.
The midfielder was blighted by injury issues for the entire season, having undergone knee surgery in September.
Ryan returned to training in April and tasted his first action of the campaign since the final day of the previous season.
“I’m delighted to be back,” Ryan said. “I knew I had missed it but you don’t realise just how much until you’re out there.
“I’ve got a bit of a taste for it now but I’ll have to wait for pre-season to get another kick. It was just good to be out there to put an absolute nightmare of a season behind me.”
Ryan admits it was a difficult time for him off the pitch. When asked how he managed to stay positive, he added: “You’ve got no choice. My aim was always to get back on the pitch but there were a few times when it looked doubtful that would happen.
“It was a dark time to be honest, not getting answers and stuff like that, but finally we got to the bottom of it and we got it sorted.
“It’s a long story with the injury. It’s not as black and white as people thought.
“It’s just a frustrating time but I’m delighted it’s behind me, so I don’t want to look back now.
“Every player has injuries and mine was just a frustrating one, getting told in the summer I’d be all right for pre-season and here I am 12 months later making my first appearance.
“It’s disappointing but I just can’t wait to start next season. I want to get myself as fit as I can. I’m raring to go and I feel like a kid with the bit between my teeth looking to prove people wrong.”
Ryan impressed against Gillingham, claiming the man of the match accolade despite only playing half of the game.
“I got the blood going and I enjoyed the game,” he said. “That’s what you’re out there for – a bit of competition. That’s what I’ve missed for 12 months. I’m just delighted to get out there and have a runaround.”
Ryan is out of contract this summer and is still waiting to hear what the future holds.
The club’s retained list is expected to be announced this week, possibly today.