COVE MIDFIELDER GRANT GRATEFUL TO BE BACK IN THE FRAME TO FEATURE AGAINST OLD CLUB IN CUP SEMI
DELIGHTED: Cove Rangers midfielder Grant Campbell.
GRANT Campbell says just being involved in this weekend's Highland League Cup semi-final clash with his former club Wick Academy means the world to him.
That's because it's only a little over three months since the Cove Rangers midfielder feared his playing career was over because of a serious knee-injury - ironically suffered in a league match against Wick towards the end of last season.
It took two major operations and months of painful physiotherapy to finally get Grant out of what he described as "the dark place" he was in as he wondered whether he would ever make a full recovery.
So it's easy to understand the joy felt by the 28-year-old after playing the whole of Cove's last two league games in the lead up to Saturday's big cup clash at Balmoral Stadium.
"I really am just pleased to be back playing," said Grant, who moved to Cove from Wick in December 2015.
"Plenty of people about the club could have told you that I was in a pretty dark place around November time,wondering if I would ever kick a ball again.
"I'm genuine about that, I really was thinking that was my time up.
"So to be here, three and a half months on, looking forward to being involved in a cup semi, feels absolutely brilliant.
"Having now managed to play two full games has also taken away any nerves I had about returning from such a serious injury.
"I was fortunate because I had to make a pretty tough tackle almost immediately when I made my comeback and came through it with no problems.
"That was a real boost to my confidence but I know I still have a lot of work to do to get back to where I was before.
"I'm happy to do that because every minute back out on a pitch now is special to me."
While delighted to be in the frame to feature on Saturday, Grant is also well aware of the fact his old club are capable of spoiling things by booking a place in the final instead if Cove aren't at the top of their game.
"It would be dangerous to forget this is also a huge match for them and one they will be determined to win," said Grant.
"I was part of the only Wick side to win a senior trophy, the North of Scotland Cup.
"It's a proud club that is desperate to add more honours so let's be under no illusions, they will approach the game at Balmoral as if it's the final itself.
"They will see a victory over us as a huge boost to their chances of actually going on and winning the trophy.
"But it's a massive game for us too.
"The reason I - and the majority of the other players - came to Cove was to win trophies.
"The club has enjoyed a good record on that front over the last few years, so it stands to reason that is a major attraction when anyone is offered the opportunity to sign on.
"But it won't just happen because it has before.
"It's up to us who are now at the club to do what those players from the past did.
"It's about showing desire and being willing to work - and making sure that we turn up on the days when we need to."
Cove still have injury concerns over midfield duo Blair Yule and Jamie Masson, although striker Paul McManus should be available after missing last weekend's league win over Deveronvale through illness.
Full-back Harry Milne has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury.
Fans are reminded Saturday's tie kicks off at the earlier time of 2.30pm.
There will also be a ceremony before the match to officially name the main stand at Balmoral Stadium after Cove Rangers legend, and honorary club president , Alan McRae.