Matt Harrold is eager to renew his strike partnership with ‘established’ forward James Collins in the Crawley Town front line.
The popular striker made a welcome and long-awaited return from injury on Saturday against Millwall after undergoing a knee operation last season.
The 32-year-old former Southend United, Wycombe Wanderers and Bristol Rovers attacker revealed he initially ‘underestimated’ the severity of the op, which has ruled him out for the majority of pre-season.
Despite being back in the gym within days of the procedure at the back end of last season, getting to the stage of playing has taken much longer than Harrold expected, admitting he rushed himself.
But with no damage done, the fans’ favourite returned for the last 15 minutes at the Checkatrade Stadium over the weekend after undergoing just two full training sessions in four months.
He said: “I definitely underestimated the injury, I think we all did a bit, but the main thing is I feel good now and I am looking to get going.
“Setbacks? Maybe there were a few in there, not major ones, but just of getting the process through one, two, three, four and five, rather than missing a couple out in between.
“It’s just my eagerness to get back that has hindered me and I should know better at my age. It’s a gradual process, but it felt great to be back out there.
“It’s been frustrating. I kind of thought I’d be feeling perfect after a few weeks, which was probably a bit naive of me.
“It’s great to be feeling good and I am just looking to kick on now and get myself really fit and help the team, that’s all I am concentrating on.”
Having missed four friendlies, Harrold is now keen to get fully fit with more minutes against Aldershot on Saturday ready for the League Two season opener against Wycombe a week later.
And while sitting in the stands, the striker has had plenty of time to cast his eye over the new style - which he is relishing - and new recruits - one of which he knows well.
He and Collins helped fire Shrewsbury to the League Two play-off semi-final in 2011 and Harrold is looking forward to rekindling that partnership.
He revealed: “I played with Collo at Shrewsbury, but at the moment we are playing more of a one. That’s down to the formation and probably the fact we have had one striker.
“We got to the play-offs and have played together a lot, he’s a good lad and good player. It’s good to see an established player come through the door, it’s good for everyone. We enjoyed playing together.
“It’s good options and there are lots of attacking options rather than out-and-out number nines. I am sure there are plenty of combinations to work on.”
And despite his stature, Harrold is relishing not only being a target man this campaign, he added: “It’s a slightly different way but it looks exciting it’s working through the lines a bit more, but hopefully it’ll be exciting and there will be lots of goals.
“If you watched last season a lot was quite direct - I understand that is part of my job.
“I also quite like the ball played into feet and I think maybe the nine now this season may not be looked to so early, it’s going to be around the final third where you need to be sharper. It’s going to be slightly different, but I have played in teams like that before, so it’s something to look forward to.”
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