Brighton & Hove Albion striker Craig Mackail-Smith has had a stop-start season following his return from a long-term Achilles injury, but is now focusing on delivering the goods in the final Championship games of the season.
He told Seagull, the club’s official matchday programme, “Mentally and physically it’s been tough. Not having done something for 13 months - things that I’d been doing every day for a long period of time - your body just forgets and it takes time to get it back going.
“Then you have your battles with your head because you want to be doing better than you’re doing and you get frustrated.
“One of the biggest obstacles for me was accepting that it would take me a long time to get back to the level I was before the injury. I was always fighting myself and fighting my body – maybe training too hard and too much because I was so keen to get back and show everybody that I still had the ability to do what I’m good at.
“Now it’s a case of taking it one game at a time and taking the positives from my recent performances.”
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The Scottish international was recalled from a one-month loan with Peterborough United at the end of December when first-team coach Nathan Jones was in charge and he admits his time away with the Posh inspired him to cement his position in the Albion’s forward line.
“It helped in the fact that it gave me three 90 minutes of football. It was also nice to go back to see people who were there from my first spell; mind you the training ground has changed compared to when I was there and only one or two players are left, so it was a completely different atmosphere.
“But I’ve done that stint now and it’s all about breaking back into the Albion team on a regular basis between now and the end of the season, doing as well as I can, and making an impression on the manager.”
The full interview with Craig can be found in Derby County issue of Seagull, still available in the Amex Superstore, priced £3.50, or available to purchase online at seagullsdirect.co.uk