Matt Doherty is pleased to have got some more action under his belt after coming through an hour for the Under-21s against Chelsea last night.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, but followed up a half against the Nike Academy last week with 60 minutes of last night’s 2-1 defeat at Telford.
Doherty said: “I felt quite good – I felt confident on it and it didn’t play up so I’m happy with it.
“The idea was to play the full 90 minutes but the pitch was a bit heavy so I was told to play 60 instead and I was fine with that.
“Playing 60 minutes on there as probably like playing 80 or 90 minutes on another pitch because it was quite heavy out there.
“I got through it well with no setbacks, but I felt I lacked a bit of pace and sharpness but that will come with the more games I play.
“I’m just glad to be out of the physio’s room and back playing again.
“I played 45 minutes against Nike Academy last Tuesday, but I don;t know what the plan is going forwards – I don’t know if they want me to play another reserve game.
“But I feel quite good so I’ll speak to the gaffer and see what he says.”
Doherty admits it has been a frustrating time on the sidelines since first injuring his hamstring against Oldham back in October, initially returning for the game against Brentford, but has paid tribute to the club’s medical staff for their treatment of a difficult injury.
“I was in form and felt I was playing quite well so it was terrible timing really,” he acknowledges.
“There’s never a good time to get injured but I was injured in the lead-up to Christmas so I missed a lot of games – I think it’s 16 I’ve missed, which is too many.
“I didn’t expect it to be so long but hamstring injuries can take a while and you can’t rush back too quickly, which maybe I did last time.
“I felt quite good when I came back but maybe there’s a high percentage of re-injury so that’s probably what it was.
“The physios have done a great job on it.
“I don’t think the second one was as bad as the first one but it just took time.
“I’ve been working hard in the physio’s room and we’ve got great staff here and they know when to put me back in.
“They will have the final say on whether I can be available for Saturday or whether I need another reserve game.
“You use your hamstrings for everything – there was a point when I was thinking about my hamstring every step, which is no good for anyone.
“At least last night I didn’t think about it; I was aware of it because I don’t want to injure it again but I’ll just take confidence in more games and then forget about it.”
And looking further ahead Doherty is keen to get right back involved in the scramble for places ahead of what he hopes will be a sustained push for promotion over the second half of the season.
“There are a lot of right-backs here – myself, Sam Ricketts, Ethan (Ebanks-Landell), Stears (Richard Stearman) and ‘Foles’ so there’s no shortage of competition,” he added.
“But I’m quite confident that I could come in and if my chance comes, then I can take it.
“I just want to get back playing again in the first team so I can have the best season possible – to get promoted would be great.
“I want to achieve promotion but I want to win the league and be the best I can then who knows what might happen?”