MICHAEL Duckworth admits it feels good to be pulling on the blue and white shirt again after fears his season may have had a premature ending.
When the 21-year-old defender collapsed in agony after just six minutes of the match against Northampton Town back in February his fellow teammates and the coaching staff feared the worst.
But despite initial concerns Duckworth may have broken his leg an x-ray thankfully revealed there were no broken bones and that it was ‘only’ soft tissue damage to a tendon in his leg.
It was, of course, still a major blow to the German-born right-back who had only just returned to the starting line-up after recovering from a double hernia operation, as it meant a further month out of the team.
Duckworth, who had an impressive start to the season after signing from Bradford Park Avenue in the summer, made his long awaited comeback in the 4-2 defeat to Mansfield Town at Victoria Park on Tuesday night.
Duckworth said: “I had been out for a while with the double hernia and then the suspected broken leg, which thankfully I have come back quickly from.
”It turned out it was the tendon that runs down the side of my leg that was badly bruised and that takes time to heal.
“I have been working hard though and doing the rehab and thankfully managed to come back quite soon.
“It feels really good to be back playing on the pitch.”
So far 2014 has proved to be a frustrating year for Duckworth but he is hoping he is now over his injury woes after returning to first team duties, albeit in a slightly different position.
Duckworth is of course used to plying his trade at right-back but 20-year-old Jordan Richards has been playing there, and playing well, in his absence.
That meant Duckworth was played in a more advanced position down the right-hand side of midfield against Mansfield, instead of Brad Walker, who was covering for the suspended Simon Walton in the holding position.
It is not a position Duckworth is particularly used to but while he admits right-back is his preferred spot, he says he doesn’t mind filling in elsewhere as long as his name is on that team sheet.
Duckworth said: “It was a bit different playing more advanced.
“I don’t mind playing there but I would prefer to play right back because that is where I have played every game, except against Mansfield.
“I felt like I was doing well but Jordy has come in and done really well there.
“Jordy is a consistent player, that is what he is about.
“He has a great technical side to his game and has been doing well.”
Duckworth admitted he was surprised to get the nod on Tuesday, adding: “I have just been working hard to get back and was surprised to be starting.
“I didn’t know until just before but I was ready to play and I have been working hard in training.
“I just want to play every game now, it doesn’t matter where I’m playing, I will still give it 110 per cent.”
And how do the Pools players bounce back from the thumping 4-2 home defeat on Tuesday in time for the visit of Cheltenham Town at The Vic on Saturday.
The former York City trainee added: “We have to re-gather in training, go over the goals that we conceded and cut out the mistakes.
“If we do that then we are in with a good chance of winning most games.”