GRANT GEARING UP FOR BIG PUSH TO MAKE HIS MARK WITH COVE IN REMAINDER OF CAMPAIGN
COVE Rangers midfielder Grant Campbell admits he's delighted to finally be ready to play a part in the club's push for league and cup glory. Grant ended an 11 month injury exile from the first team squad when he made it on to the bench for Saturday's 0-0 draw with Brora Rangers in the Breedon Highland League.
The 28-year-old never got on but was still ecstatic because making it back on to the team sheet meant a lot after the months of pain and frustration as he batted to recover from what was a career threatening knee injury, suffered just two minutes into a clash against his previous club, Wick Academy.
Grant, who was joined on the bench by Sam Burnett, who had also been out with a long term injury, said: "It was a huge step forward for me because it's been a long and very frustrating 11 months.
"It felt great when the manager told me I was on the bench alongside Sam because we have both been through a lot.
"It would have been even better if we had actually got on, but just being out there, with a first team strip on again, was a huge boost."
Grant had hoped to be back earlier but required a second operation, in November, to finally fix his knee problem.
He thanked the Cove directors for agreeing to get that done privately, in Glasgow, to ensure he was able to get back to full fitness much faster than many semi professional players who have suffered similar injuries tend to.
"The second operation was the big turning point for me," he said.
"November began pretty bleakly for me because I was starting to wonder if I would ever make it back on to a football pitch.
"But it's been all positive since the second operation was done to remove the small piece of bone that had broken off in my knee joint and was causing me a lot of problems.
"I've read a couple of stories recently about guys in the Highland League being desperate for funding to help them have similar surgery to avoid maybe having be out of the game for up to two years because they haven had to wait to get it done on the NHS.
"But my problem was diagnosed and dealt with inside a month.
"You can't ask for any more than that.
"The club also has Jenni (Butler, the club physio) on hand at every training session to make sure you do things correctly when you are recovering from injuries.
"It underlines how professional the club is about everything and why so many top players are delighted when they get the opportunity to come to Cove."
Grant accepts he can't expect to just walk back into a side that has coped pretty well during his absence.
But he admitted he's desperate to get back in because the injury denied him the chance to feature during the latter stages of last season, while Cove clinched the Highland League title and took part in the promotion play-offs.
"The boys have enjoyed a fantastic season so far but I obviously want to see if I can help make it an even better one," he said.
"It would be naive to think I would ever just walk back into a team like ours, though.
"I'm going to have to earn that right but it's something that I'm determined to do.
"I've been back in full training for six weeks now and had some run outs with the under 20 side and feeling great.
"It's now a case of continuing to work hard to make sure I'm ready if the opportunity to break back into the team comes along.
"Last season was arguably my best ever in the Highland League.
"I felt robbed when things happened the way they did because I would have loved to have stayed the course and seen if I could have helped win the final play off against Cowdenbeath.
"I'm desperate to make up for lost time and can promise the manager if he needs me, I'm ready."