INTERVIEW: Loving being back in the team

Defender Dave Atkinson on his return after injury

Defender Dave Atkinson spoke to us ahead of training on Thursday morning about his return to the team after injury.

"Being out injured is always difficult," he admitted. "The lads were obviously doing well so it's hard to get back into the team. The gaffer obviously wants to stick with the players that are doing well for him because if he puts me back in and we start losing everyone would look at him.

"I had to be patient and bide my time but now I've got my place I can hopefully keep it. When you're out you obviously want the team to do well and win games but you also want to be in the squad yourself."

"It took a while to get used to the rotation because the lads just want to keep their place if they're playing well," he told us. "Changing the team is obviously working because people are getting a rest when they need it, and when you do get a place in the team you try even harder to keep it.

"I'm loving being back in the team at the moment and I just want to stay there now. We know we've got a big squad with a lot of players who are good enough to be in the starting eleven. It's hard to keep your place but I'll just keep working hard and see what happens."

"I'm very happy with my own form over the last few weeks," he commented. "You never know how you're going to feel when you come back from an injury. I feel better than I did before I got injured so I just want to push on now.

"I've played in a few positions this season already and I think I've done well in them all. Every game I've played has been a learning curve, but that's the same with every game in this league.

"You need a lot of grit to get through the games. We showed that against Plymouth on Saturday. We had an eight hour journey down there against one of the best teams in the league and did well." 

On the mood in the dressing room, he said: "It's a lot better than last season. Everyone was down last season and it didn't feel as tight knit as it is now.

"Everyone gets on with each other and we have a lot of good crack, which I think helps a lot. Everyone is really close and we have banter on and off the training pitch, which is good.

"There's a lot of confidence in the dressing room and I think you can see it on the pitch. Everyone is buzzing - the whole club is buzzing, and it's a great feeling." 

On his own situation, he said: "Hopefully I can extend my contract. That's my next aim. Even from the start of the season, that's what I've been working towards. I've had to keep it in the back of my mind, concentrate on my game and let the football do the talking.

"It's fantastic to be part of a team which is winning games. Winning games give you a buzz and it sends everybody home happy."

And on the FA Cup draw against Welling United, he commented: "We expected an away draw in the FA Cup because it's all we seem to get! Welling will be a tough game, it's away from home and it will be their cup final.

"We won't take it for granted. We've got enough character in the team to get through those sorts of games. We played well against Plymouth but I think there's more to come, we've laid down a marker for the rest of the season now."

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