Exclusive Jermaine Beckford PNE column

'It feels great to be back playing after my long injury lay-off'
'It feels great to be back playing after my long injury lay-off'
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It is brilliant to be back playing and, touch wood, I have got through my recovery and these first games unscathed.

People have remarked how involved I have got in games and that some of the frustration of being out for so long seems to be coming out of me.

It is not so much frustration, more a new-found determination and hunger for the game.

When you have been out for as long as I have and encountered the things I have encountered, you want to make the most of every second you are back on the pitch and playing with your mates.

That is something I guess which projects on to the field through my performances.

Scoring my first goal in my first start against MK Dons a couple of weeks ago, felt pretty amazing – I couldn’t have written it any better.

Unfortunately on the day, we did not go on to win the game but from a personal point of view, it was really positive to get on the scoresheet.

With the type of injury and operation I’ve had, I have to manage my fitness and be spot on with the training I do and also the recovery.

Recovery is a massive part of it, I have got a post-match routine which I go through.

Then the day after a game, I know exactly what I need to go through to feel good for the next training day.

I have got everything mapped out and it seems to be working okay. Throughout the injury, I was always positive and kept a smile on my face.

Fortunately in my career, I have not had many major injuries.

With this one, I managed to take it in my stride – as soon as you start thinking negative thoughts, it makes your rehab work a lot harder to get through.

What helped was having a great fitness team behind me and other players helping.

At the beginning, there was Chris Humphrey with me in the gym and in the physio room as he recovered from his injury.

Tom Clarke had a few weeks with us when he damaged his shoulder.

Then Stevie May unfortunately got that bad injury and he was with us.

Helping us have been our sports therapist Lewis Hiney and physio Matt Jackson.

Together we have become a pretty tight group, we have helped each other along to get through it.

If someone was having a down day, we would pick up the energy a bit more, help guide them into a positive frame of mind.

I could understand that if you were in the physio department by yourself, it could be quite challenging.

There are two games of the season to go now but I don’t look beyond the next day.

My focus on Thursday was to train properly, try my hardest and feel good for Friday. On Friday, it is the same approach in order to be ready for Saturday.

I feel that my fitness levels are up almost to a standard which I’m happy with.

I feel in a good place and the only blip is that the season is almost finished – I would have loved to played in a few more.

That is just how it goes – I’ll build up over the summer to be ready for pre-season training.

We will see how that goes, hopefully I’ll be in the Over-30s non-running group but I doubt that!

It is hard to believe that it not far off a year since that great day at Wembley when we got promoted.

With everything that has happened, at times it feels a lifetime ago.

Then again, it sometimes seems like it was only yesterday.

That was an amazing day, one of the best games in my career.

I have got everything from that day – my medal, the DVD, the ball – to remind me.