Midfielder Jason Kennedy played his first 90 minutes for United since September 2017 against Cleator Moor Celtic in the Cumberland Cup on Tuesday night, and we caught up with him shortly after full-time to get his thoughts as he continues his recovery from a long-term injury.
“90 minutes on that pitch made it feel like two games in one!” he joked. “It was very heavy, but it was good to be out there and to get it under my belt.
"You can do as much training and play as many training games as you like, but it’s completely different when you’re out on the pitch in a proper game. I needed to get that done and hopefully I can kick on now and get more games from here.
“I wouldn’t say I felt rusty during the game to be honest, I’ve trained for about 10 weeks now and only missed one day, so I feel quite sharp in training. It's completely different on the pitch, the surface didn’t really help, but it felt good to get a full 90 minutes."
“I don’t get any pain in the area where the injury was anymore," he confirmed. "It’s completely fine and I feel like I can carry on with my career now, which is a big relief. I will definitely be stiff tomorrow, but I think that’s to be expected!
“To be involved in the game and get a goal is a massive confidence boost because I didn’t know how many minutes I’d be able to play, to be honest. To get through a full game has given me a bit of a buzz and I feel like I can really get back and involved now.
"I think playing the full game has given me a mental boost as well, because I was unsure how I’d get on in my first game. I know I can play 90 minutes now, and to do it on that pitch and come off and feel fine is great.
“I knew I was ready to play in my own mind but this has given me the boost I needed. I’ve felt fine in training, I’ve been sharp and I’ve just felt normal really.
"I do think I’m ready to fight for a place in the first team now. I obviously know there are a lot of good players playing well so I’ll be down the pecking order a bit, but I want to challenge and stake ny claim."
“If I have to go out on loan to get games I’ll look to do that," he told us. "That will build me up and I can then come back and hopefully make a contribution to our promotion push towards the end of the season.
"I also know I’m coming towards the end of my contract here, so I need to get minutes under my belt regardless of what happens next. I’ll look to get games elsewhere if needs be."
And on his goal, which was his first in a blue shirt since he scored against Morecambe in the Checkatrade Trophy in August 2017, he said: “I got my shot off for the first chance and thankfully reacted quickly enough once the keeper had saved it to put it in.
"I was happy to be back on the pitch but to get a goal does add to the buzz a bit. All the hard work I’ve put in definitely feels like it’s paying off.
“It doesn’t matter what game you play in, you always want to do well and help the team. It was nice to get on the scoresheet ... I think it was about six-yards out, which is probably the same distance as the rest of my goals added up!
“I’ve got over the worst now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I just want to keep building from here.”
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