DONCASTER Rovers’ highly-rated defender James O’Connor is hoping to make up for lost time on his return to the club’s starting line-up.
The centre-back/right-back played his first full game of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against away to Cardiff.
“I had set myself a target of being ready to play in the first game after the international break so I’m pleased that I achieved that,” he told The Star.
“I came off the bench in a couple of games before the break, which helped, and I also played in last week’s practice game.”
Having completed the gruelling 62-mile Inca Trek in June, and done some running on his return home, O’Connor was feeling pretty fit and looking forward to reporting back for pre-season training when he felt a twinge in his knee whilst out running less than a fortnight before the start of pre-season training.
“Apparently it was a problem that I could have had for over 12 months,” said O’Connor. “I had a few twinges with the knee last season but you always do as a professional footballer during a long season.
“The surgeon found out what the problem was and sorted it. It was frustrating to miss out on pre-season because it’s an important time of the year. But I also missed out a couple of years ago and I had one of my best ever seasons so I hope that will be the case this season.
“The knee feels okay but I’ve got a bit of tendonitis in my Achilles at the moment. It doesn’t stop me playing but I’ve just got to manage it.”
O’Connor has set his sights on helping Rovers climb out of the relegation zone as quickly as possible and is eyeing a result away to fellow strugglers Reading on Saturday.
Skipper Brian Stock and centre-back Shelton Martis both played for 90 minutes in a practice game against Grimsby yesterday afternoon.
“They both came through well and it was a personal milestone for them both,” said Rovers No 2 Richard O’Kelly.
Star striker Billy Sharp has started running this week for the first time since suffering ankle ligament damage in the first game of the season at Brighton.
Ryan Mason, Paul Keegan and Adam Lockwood are also back running following their respective injury problems -