Coventry City defender James McPake has found himself in a catch 22 paradox this season.
Not only does the uncompromising defender need games to increase his fitness, he is also desperate to play, but his manager Andy Thorn can''t send him out on loan where he would get the necessary games, because of his tiny squad, neither will Thorn play McPake until he is fully match fit and sharp.
McPake suffered a broken back last year, but has made an excellent recovery, but has failed to regain his place in Thorn''s starting eleven.
McPake told the CT, “My fitness has been good and I have probably only missed ten days’ training since July so any time I am not picked people put it down to injury.
“I have been fit this season but I just obviously need games because that gives you a different fitness.
“I was out for nearly ten months and it wasn’t easy to get back into training because it had been a back injury and I felt I had to get my body doing everything again.
“My timing is probably still not there but I think that would be the case if I was coming back from any injury because I have not had the games and you can’t match that in training.
“I played my three games earlier on in the season but I need ten or 12 games on the bounce and then I’ll hopefully be back to myself.”
McPake was sent on for the last ten minutes in the 1-0 Boxing Day win over Bristol City, but he understands the conundrum both he and Thorn find themselves in and confirmed it when asked about the current circumstances.
He said, “No it’s not and that’s why when you get in the team you have to hit the ground running.
“Unfortunately I never did that when I played against Southampton, Millwall and Doncaster when I didn’t really cover myself in glory, but I knew that was going to happen because I had been out for so long.
“With me it is just perseverance and keeping working hard in training and doing the extra bits and hopefully the manager sees that. So it’s just a question of fighting for my place and playing some games.”
“It was good to be involved on Boxing Day. It’s a nightmare going on as a defender when you are at 1-0 and desperate to win. You go on and try to do your job and thankfully we came through in the end.
“I had a wee thought in my head that it would be just my luck that I went on and we concede two late goals but I think we showed people that we can see games out. We need to be doing that a lot more and it’s as much about being mentally tough as well.
“We had four centre-halves on in the end, which was fine because we have the two Richards who are capable of playing at full-back as well.
“We had a bit of experience out there and we felt that out on the pitch where we felt comfortable whereas in the past we have been leading and teams have had chance after chance and when that happens you are more likely to concede. But I thought we were comfortable. We were doing plenty of talking and pushing and pulling people about and making sure that we weren’t going to give it up.”
Commenting on the rare feeling this season of sitting in the dressing room after winning a game, he said, “The lads were buzzing afterwards and it makes sitting in for an early night at Christmas all worth while.
“The win has not been too far away in recent weeks, especially at Peterborough where we were unlucky and should have got something out of that game.
“We want to push on now. Boxing Day gets quickly forgotten about and we move on to Saturday against Brighton and we want to take points off them as well.
“We want another win because if we don’t it makes the Bristol result kind of irrelevant.”