Ashington FC defender James Harmison is expecting to hit the comeback trail this weekend when the Colliers travel to basement side Norton & Stockton Ancients.
The 34-year-old lynchpin underwent a hernia operation only last month but believes his speedy levels of recovery could see him named amongst the substitutes on Saturday, six weeks after undergoing surgery.
And Harmison’s declaration has been welcomed by his brother and manager Steve.
The Woodhorn Lane boss said: “Having James back in the squad will be a massive boost for us.
“The character of the group is immediately lifted when an experienced player comes back, in similar fashion as the lads were boosted when we signed Michael Dixon from Dunston UTS.”
Meanwhile James Harmison has expressed a massive thanks to physiotherapist Kev Bell.
“I rested the first week after the op,” he said.
“Then I worked with Kev on a fitness programme which has been great.
“My stomach feels fine and I’m getting stronger, and I’m hoping to be on the bench on Saturday.
“Naturally I’ve missed my football. The lads were on a good run but struggled in tough games against North Shields in the FA Vase and Seaham Red Star in the league, which culminated in back to back defeats.
“I just wanted to help out and be part of it, even though I knew I couldn’t. It was so frustrating.”
Harmison has given top marks to the Ashington management team of Steve Harmison, Ian Skinner and Lee Anderson, but he added that his team-mates should look to replicate his former club North Shields as they strive for improvement.
“Against the Robins we lost against a team who were well organised,” he said.
“We had been looking for a good run ourselves in the Vase but had to take the result on the chin.
“However, our benchmark should be to copy the Shieldsmen, and I believe it will come in time.
“After two defeats it’s been all doom and gloom, but we’ll be looking to bounce back.
“I believe the management team are doing an excellent job – remember Ashington almost went down last year.
“But if we win a couple of games, and we also have a few in hand, then all of a sudden we will be in the top six, still in the Northumberland Senior Cup and League Cup, so the picture is not as bad as some people think.”