Best still to come says Bristol City defender Matthew Bates
Matthew Bates insists he still has a lot more to give in a Bristol City shirt.
Signed on a short-term contract in November with a brief to prove his recovery from long-term injury, the former Middlesbrough defender has made eight appearances for the Robins in their fight against relegation.
But the ex-England youth international says he is still not fully match fit and that the best is still to come.
Talking to The Post ahead of this weekend's FA Cup third round tie at Blackburn Rovers, the Stockton-born centre-back admitted: "I'm probably at about 80 per cent right now.
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"I've been pleased with the way things have gone since my knee injury, but I'm still a few games away from being back to my best.
"Lacking that bit of sharpness makes a difference to everything you do in terms of reading the game, heading the ball and speed over the ground.
"Eight months is a long time to be out and I'm quite content at where I am now. I feel as though everything is going in the right direction.
"I really felt my fitness coming back in the last couple of games and I now feel as though I'm getting back to somewhere approaching my best.
"I've enjoyed playing again, but Bristol City fans have not seen me at my best and there is still more to come."
Whether Bates attains full fitness and peak condition in a City shirt remains to be seen.
His contract expires on January 16 and the defender claims he has no idea what the future might hold for him.
He said: "At this points in time, I'm not too sure where my future lies.
"I'll just concentrate on keeping fit and playing games and see what happens when the time comes in a couple of weeks.
"I'm enjoying my time here, but all the big decisions are still to be made."