Return of Lewis Montrose a big boost for AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley

Lewis Montrose was not expected to play the full 90 minutes against Sutton
Lewis Montrose was not expected to play the full 90 minutes against Sutton
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Jim Bentley is glad to have club captain Lewis Montrose back fit and readily available for AFC Fylde.

READ MORE: Bentley sounds out managers about possible signings
Montrose missed the majority of last season with a foot injury, which has also seen him miss three months of this campaign.

But manager Bentley has his skipper back and the 31-year-old returned to the starting line-up for Tuesday’s goalless home draw with fellow strugglers Sutton United.

The Coasters boss has had to bring the midfielder back into the fold gradually.

Bentley explained: “We’ve come to the club and we know Lewis well from his time in the Football League at York, Gillingham and Wycombe.

“We’ve had a bit of a nibble on him in the past, with him being Manchester-based and looking a good player.

“Now I’ve come here and I’m his manager.

“He’s been injured. He’s had a terrible time last year and this year to a certain extent.

“The big thing is, from my point of view, he wasn’t far from full fitness when I came to the club and we had to make sure we managed him right.

“Sometimes he’s hard to keep the reins on because he’s very professional and wants to go at it. He’s very honest. He wants to work hard.

“We’ve just had to manage him right through this period to make sure we didn’t lose him because he is a key player.”

Montrose’s availability gives Bentley welcome competition for the midfield engine room at Mill Farm.

He added: “I’m quite blessed in that position, with the likes of himself and (Ryan) Croasdale, who is doing well.

“He looks like scoring in every game and runs 13.5km in every game – unbelievable stats from him.

“(Danny) Philliskirk has been doing well too. We’ve got Dan Bradley who can play in there.

“It was one of the reasons Elton N’Gwatala left the club – because I think we’re decent in that position.”

Montrose had to play a full game on his return to the starting 11 in midweek, though that wasn’t always the plan.

“Lewis got his first start the other day after a couple of substitute appearances and he went about his job in the manner I thought he would do,” said Bentley.

“He was competitive; his use of the ball was good; he led his team,; his organisational skills were good.

“Did we think he was going to last the 90 minutes? Probably not.

“We did have an idea that we were going to change him, but with the dynamics of the game and how it went (Fylde had Jordan Williams sent off early in the second half), you need your captain at that stag. He dug in and he got 90 minutes under his belt.

“Credit to him. He’s a big player moving forward and hopefully he goes from strength to strength.

Today Fylde start their FA Trophy campaign at home to Curzon Ashton of National League North and Bentley is conscious of his holders being a big scalp.

The league is Fylde’s main priority but Bentley is enticed by the opportunity for the club to return to Wembley.

“The big one is trying to get promoted out of the league. It’s a tough league and I’m pretty impressed with it,” he said.

“But it’s a fantastic opportunity to win a trophy. It’s an opportunity to win at Wembley.

“We’re the holder and we want to protect that. We want to retain it.

“We’ll respect Curzon. They’re going to come here as underdogs but we’ve got to be on our guard and make sure we’re not one of the upsets.

“It’s a distraction from the league programme. It’s another game at home and an opportunity to get back to winning ways.”