PHILL Bell has given Ashington manager Gary Middleton a welcome boost ahead of the club’s FA Carlsberg fourth round clash against Cornwall-based Bodmin on Saturday.
He has returned to the squad after a five and a half months out through injury.
Bell, 29, a Phd student/lecturer, broke his ankle against his former club Whitley Bay at Hillheads back in August and was making slow progress – until a recent upturn in fortunes.
“I was on crutches with a ‘pot’ on then after I got the ‘pot’ off it’s just been a gradual increase really,” he said.
“I wasn’t particularly happy with the injury as little as three weeks ago, but since then I’ve made quite a bit of progress.
“I had one full training session prior to the Dunston game and afterwards I spoke to Gary (Middleton) and said I felt good and could he give me a run out.
“He brought me on for a couple of minutes at South Shields and for five or more minutes at Benfield on Saturday and I’ve had no reaction at all.
“It was a little bit stiff, but I think that was more my whole body more than anything else.
“After being out for five and a half months, I feel really good and obviously feel I need more minutes to build my actual fitness up – but my return gives Gary more options.”
Middleton said: “It’s great to get Phill back and involved.
“He’s not back to full fitness but we are trying to drip feed him on getting as much as we can and he is happy to be included. It’s a bonus.
“He’ll gain his fitness over the coming weeks and he will certainly be in the squad for the trip to Bodmin.”