THERE were suggestions that Tony Carss should have been named man-of-the-match against his old club Darlington last week.
The 27-year-old certainly made a pleasing return to action for the first time since November, playing 33 minutes as a substitute for the out-of-sorts Lee Fowler.
Carss quickly provided glimpses of the quality Town have been missing since he limped off the scene against Cheltenham with a troublesome groin injury.
It has taken him the whole of December and January to settle down the ligament problem, but he has avoided surgery and is now back in full training without any worries.
The ex-Oldham player now has the benefit of a full 90 minutes of Reserve team action under his belt, too, after playing in Wednesday's 4-2 defeat by Preston at Bamber Bridge.
So the only way is up, it seems, for a player who, last summer, was one of the biggest signings made by manager Peter Jackson.
"It is always frustrating when you can't play through injury, any footballer will tell you that, and this has been a particularly long lay-off, so I'm delighted to be back," said the experienced midfielder.
"The half hour I got in the first team against Darlington was probably ideal for me because I had done a lot of running and then I was able to get in a full week of training before the match.
"I felt I benefited from the run-out and then a full game in midweek, so hopefully I'm now getting stronger and I can build up my fitness from here."
Carss is one of the most naturally fit players on the books, so he has missed the cut and thrust of regular action, especially as Town have climbed the table in his absence.
"The lads have been on a great run and last Saturday was our first defeat in eight matches, so it's been going well," he said.
"We were all very disappointed about Darlington, especially losing our winning run and at home as well, but confidence is still high and we are still in the play-off places.
"This is obviously a big week for us with Torquay away followed by Bristol Rovers away on Tuesday, and it's important we pick up points in both those matches if we can.
"From a personal point of view, I will be working as hard as I can to get back in the team since I've been forced to watch for so long.
"Maybe the injury wouldn't have taken so long to get over if I hadn't played on with it in the first place.
"For about four or five weeks I was just playing and resting, with maybe only one session of training before each game, and it probably didn't do me any favours.
"At least I'm feeling fine now, though, and it's great to be back on the training ground with the lads on a regular basis, getting some consistent hard work and building things up.
"The work I've been doing with Lee Martin, our physio, in recent weeks looks to be standing me in good stead and, hopefully I can be involved for the rest of the season."
Carss always said he wouldn't have signed if he didn't think town could get promoted, and he is still full of belief that they will.
"We are going well and, after one defeat, we just need to get back on track," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to the games coming up.
"This has been a hard week with playing more than half an hour in my first game back and then a full game in the Reserves, but I'm feeling good and keen to do more.
"At Bamber Bridge's ground on Wednesday the pitch was quite heavy and they were quite sharp, so we struggled to get to grips in the first half.
"In the second, though, we picked up their spare man in midfield and settled things down and I thought weorganised ourselves pretty well in the end.
"For me, it took a while to pick up the pace of the game, but I felt I got stronger as it went on and I enjoyed it very much in the end.
"Hopefully, now, it's a case of no looking back and getting ready for a busy few months ahead. I've been out for quite a while and I want to make the most of what is left of this season."
It would be inappropriate on a weekend when Town are playing Torquay not to mention Carss' wonder winner against the Gulls at the McAlpine.
Straight from a corner he rifled an unstoppable volley into the top corner - probably the Goal of the Season.
He tried it again from a Rob Edwards flag kick on Wednesday, but this time with a little less success.
Carss made contact all right, but the ball flew high over the goal and also over the small stand at the bottom end of the Irongate ground.
It was the fourth time a ball had been lost during the game and one wag from Preston, clearly unaware of Carss prowess in such situations, shouted: "Make him fetch it!"
Football can be a cruel game.
TOWN Reserves have no match next week because the scheduled Pontin's Holidays Premier Division fixture at Tranmere has been put back to Wednesday, April 21 at Prenton Park (7.00).