Rochdale v Bristol Rovers - match analysis
DANNY Woodards was probably the only person associated with Bristol Rovers that was able to leave Spotland with a smile on his face.
Very rarely does a player face the press with any look other than misery following a defeat, but Woodards proved an exception to that rule in the tunnel minutes after Rovers had lost 2-1 to Rochdale on Saturday.
"I haven't stopped smiling all day," he confirmed. Understandable sentiments in the circumstances.
Woodards has rarely been seen since suffering a broken leg and ruptured ankle ligament at Dagenham & Redbridge on the final day of last season. It was only to be expected that reaching the end of his six-month-long road to recovery would facilitate over-riding emotions of relief and happiness – despite the grim realities of another disappointing day for Rovers.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"It just felt great to be back," said last season's player-of-the-year. "The manager had been talking to me to see how I'd feel about going straight back in for about a week or so now.
"I only found out on Saturday morning that I'd be playing. I've missed playing games on a Saturday afternoon, so it was good to be back with the boys again.
"I hate having to sit down and watch football. I don't really do it at all if I can help it, so I have been really eager to get back playing again. I'd been trying to push on a bit and get back quicker, but the staff have had to ease me back a bit because I did have major surgery in the summer.
"It was a shame about the result, but we all worked as hard as we could and now we have to pick ourselves up and try and get something at Port Vale on Tuesday night."
Woodards, who came through over an hour unscathed, added: "I thought it was going to be a bit of a struggle, but I didn't feel too bad.
"I didn't think I'd get through the full 90 minutes, but I'm just happy to have got over the psychological side of things.
"I've been back in full contact training for about three weeks now but you never know how an injury will stand up to a first real competitive test. How you will react to the first tackle is always in the back of your mind. I got a couple of kicks on it and it felt fine, so that was reassuring. I got a bit of a kick on the ankle before I was substituted, but I'm hoping to be involved again on Tuesday night."
Further suspensions to an already thinning squad following red cards for Garry Kenneth and Eliot Richards, along with the possible absence of David Clarkson make it look increasingly likely that Woodards will indeed be involved again at Vale Park.
The return of Matt Lund, who has excelled at right back over the last six weeks or so, however, also makes it likely that Woodards will again be selected in an out-of-position midfield role, but he said: "I've played there a few times, so I'm no stranger to it.
"Michael Smith and Matt Lund have been doing well at the back, so the manager thought the Rochdale game was a good opportunity to try me in midfield.
"I'm happy to play there. Fitness-wise it is going to take me a bit of time to reach my peak so having to chase people around the park will probably help me with that!"
Rovers, meanwhile, will be hoping to reverse an alarming run of recent form, which has seen them lose four of their last five games against promotion favourites Port Vale.