AFC Fylde captain Brad Barnes is hoping the injury problems that have blighted his season are now firmly in the past.
The midfielder recovered from a niggling neck injury only to be ruled out again for the past two months.
But after returning to action as a late substitute appearance in the league win at Gainsborough the Saturday before last, Barnes started in the 4-0 FA Trophy victory over Skelmersdale United four days later at Salford’s AJ Bell Stadium.
Barnes was also part of the squad that travelled to Eastbourne Borough last weekend and is now keen to win back his place in Dave Challinor’s side.
“I was very pleased to be back in the starting line-up and it made it all the sweeter that it came in a victory,” said Barnes.
Barnes said: “It was a nice stadium to make my return in and above all it’s just great to be back playing.
“I’ve missed everything about it. I’ve missed the banter in the changing room and being out there on the pitch helping the team.
“I’m the sort of person who just loves playing football and it’s a relief to be back among it after quite a bit of time out for one reason or another.
“I made a cameo appearance the match before at Gainsborough – although I think I only had one touch!
“Now I just want to keep improving my fitness and get back out there on a regular basis.
I’ve been easing myself back in and I’m pleased with how I’ve done so far.
“Fair play to the lads recently. They are doing very well and I don’t expect to just walk back into the team.
“Other lads have got the shirt at the moment, so I will have to just keep working my socks off and win back my place.”
The Coasters made it four wins on the bounce since the turn of the year with the 4-1 victory at Eastbourne and Barnes admits confidence within the squad is sky high.
“Yes it is, but I think that has always been the case,” he said. “We know we are a good team and we also know what we are capable of.
“We had a couple of dodgy results at the end of the year but we have started this year really well. I don’t tend to get as far down as Eastbourne very often. In fact, I think I’ve only ever seen it on a map!
“But sometimes you have to go to these places in football, and thankfully we came away with a good result and are still in the competition.
“We want to carry that on, continue to not concede many goals and keep winning games because that’s what it’s all about.”