Doncaster Rovers midfielder Martin Woods says he is pushing for a place in the squad for Saturday’s match with Cardiff City at the Keepmoat.
Woods was delighted to return to action after a lengthy lay-off with a persistent injury in the surprise FA Cup defeat against Notts County last Saturday.
The cultured passer played in a practice game at the training ground on Tuesday, as did another injury returnee John Oster, and is hoping to be included in the squad for the Cardiff game - although two less substitutes in the Championship could count against him.
Woods said it is a vital match for Rovers in their efforts to climb out of the relegation zone: “Obviously it was disappointing to lose at home in the FA Cup at the weekend and we’ve got to learn the lessons from the defeat,” he said.
“But at least it wasn’t in the league so our position hasn’t worsened.
“Cardiff is probably a bigger game and we’ve got to try and bounce back against them, not least because we’ve got two tough back-to-back away games at Bristol City and Hull coming up and our away record hasn’t been too good and that’s something we need to look at.
“Hopefully, as more players return from injury and get fit, and more players come in, we can start picking up more points away from home.”
Woods said he was pleased to finally play a part in the first team squad: “I was delighted to get back out there; it had been a tough few months.
“I felt okay to be fair; I’d been training for two or three weeks and fortunately I’m a naturally fit person.
“When I came on we were 2-0 down so we had to pick up the pace and have a go at them rather than going on the back foot.”
The former Scottish Under-21 international, who last played 11 months ago, has been close to getting back into the squad on several occasions during his long lay-off only to break down.
Although he admits that there had been some dark days, he says he never contemplated that he career at this level could be over.
“I never thought about situation like that,” he said. “I was one of a number of long-term injuries and we used to help keep each other’s spirits up. If someone was down on a particular day we’d all rally round and try and lift them.
“It was the same with me. Because I’m normally an outgoing person the others could see when I was down.
“It obviously got very frustrating at times because I just wanted to know what the problem was. I even had an operation on my hip to see if that was causing the problem but now we know it was the groin all the time.
“We’ve now got to the bottom of what exactly the problem was and, as I say, that has been the main issue all along.
“I’ve managed to work on the things that I needed to work on and I feel as though I’m in a good position now.
“That’s the big thing because I was getting frustrated about not knowing the exact problem. Now that I know that I feel a lot better.”
Rovers have released Northern Ireland international Dean Shiels.
On Twitter yesterday the club posted: “Dean Shiels has had his contract terminated by mutual consent.”
Signed in February 2009 from Hibernian, the 26-year-old midfielder played 86 times for Rovers.
Having failed to hold down a regular first-team berth at the Keepmoat Stadium, Shiels opted to join Kilmarnock, who are managed by his father Kenny, on a six-month loan deal last summer.
North of the border, Shiels hit six goals in 22 appearances and, having been shown the door by Rovers, is poised to link up with Killie again.