Experienced defender George Pilkington is not looking any further ahead than tonight’s game at Southend United as an unlikely second chance to forge out a career at Mansfield Town opens up for him.
Pilkington, discarded after early performances last season, had become a forgotten man at Mansfield and shipped out on loan to Conference side Forest Green Rovers.
But with defenders missing though injury and suspension last weekend, Pilkington was recalled and went straight into the side to turn in a fine performance in the 1-0 home defeat by Plymouth.
“I had literally just got to Forest Green on the Friday and I got the call to say I had been recalled by the manager,” he said.
“I did a light training session and kept myself ticking over to prepare to play for Mansfield on the Saturday.
“It was a nice surprise to get recalled and to start was fantastic.
“I didn’t play many matches last year and needed to get myself match fit. At Forest Green I could see myself getting back to my old self. I started feeling more confident about myself.
“I thought we did well as a back three on Saturday considering we were put together very quickly, though there was a lot of experience to call upon. I was just disappointed we didn’t get a clean sheet and a result.
“It’s been a long time since I played for Mansfield and I didn’t want the opportunity to go by the wayside.
“I thought we played quite well on Saturday and didn’t come out with the result we deserved.”
Pilkington’s absence from first team plans last season came amid rumours he had fallen out with manager Paul Cox.
But he said: “I don’t know where all the rumours come from, but they were unfounded. It’s just football at the end of the day.
“The door was always left open for me. I just wasn’t playing for one reason or another. The players in there were playing fantastically well.”
Pilkington knows that a series of good performances now could see him cement a place in the team, as happened to fellow centre half Luke Jones last year. But he said: “I am just taking it a day at a time and I hope I am in the frame for the game at Southend.
“I am not getting too far ahead. But it’s nice to be back in the Football League.
“Not playing last year I probably learned a lot more about myself. It was time to reflect and I now know where I want to go and it’s up to me.”
Pilkington was impressed with the set-up at Forest Green during his time there, adding: “The club itself is run like a Championship club, professional from top to bottom.
“The chairman has a sustainable vision which echoes throughout the club. It’s impressive what they are trying to do, but it’s not gone quite right on the pitch.”
Manager Paul Cox said: “George and John McCombe have both been excellent, model professionals. They are not happy they have not been in the side, but both have conducted themselves immaculately and both were excellent on Saturday.”