THE weeks of endless clock-watching are nearly over, those agonising Saturdays of watching paint dry are gone – the beautiful game is back at last.
Many will argue that the outcome of pre-season matches matters little. I agree somewhat, but I do value the warm-up matches highly. You can work on everything on the training ground, but you never get the complete picture until you’ve seen competitive action.
This year’s pre-season programme is not your standard trip around the local clubs, helping them get a pay day.
These friendlies are well thought out and picked to test every nook and cranny of our squad.
However, it’s not just physically where our boys will be tested. One man in particular will face a battle of mental strength after the events of one torrid night in Ilkeston.
John Thompson, as we all know, suffered horrendous injuries which led to a walk-off from the Stags.
The Irish defender took a long time to recover and, when he did reappear, he suffered a second injury brought on by the first. Credit to the man for not walking away from the game during those days when things looked bleak.
I, for one, will be keeping a close eye on John’s progress, not only because of what happened, but because I firmly believe he will be a key feature of Paul Cox’s side, maybe even as captain. To even return last season alone shows leadership material.