AARON O’Connor’s injury nightmare finally ended at AFC Wimbledon on Friday and he’s targeting a dream return to Rodney Parade this afternoon.
The Exiles ace made his first appearance of the season as a second half substitute in the 2-2 draw with the Wombles after finally recovering from his persistent groin injury.
And he’s set to play a part against promotion hopefuls Burton Albion today in what will be his first action at Rodney Parade since the play-off semi-final second leg against Grimsby on April 28 last year.
O’Connor is delighted to be back in action and he wants to cap his comeback with a goal.
“I can’t wait for that feeling again and providing I stay fit for the next few weeks hopefully I can get it this season,” said the 30-year-old, whose last goal in a competitive match was in the play-off final at Wembley last May.
“It will be nice to play at Rodney Parade again. People are off work so it should be a big crowd and if I come on hopefully I’ll get a good reception after all this time.”
O’Connor got a big cheer from the travelling fans on Good Friday and he admits it was a relief to finally make his League Two bow.
“It was good to finally get out there. It’s been a long, boring, repetitive 11 months,” he said.
“It got to the point where I said if I played this season it would be a bonus. That 25 minutes is a bonus and anything on Monday is a bonus.”
Manager Justin Edinburgh says today will be too early for O’Connor to start but the striker feels he is ready.
“If he played me from the start that’ll be good for me,” he said. “But a half or half an hour would be great as well.
“I didn’t expect to play 25 minutes on Friday. I was expecting five or ten but I don’t feel too bad.
“I’m naturally quite fit anyway and I try to keep myself in good shape.
“It’s just being sharp that is a big part of my game and that will come in time.
“But general fitness I’m OK. I’ve been running with the boys this week and I’m fitter than half of them to be honest!”
And the former Luton Town player believes he can put his frustration to good use in the future.
“Hopefully I can use the experience and do my best to try and prevent anything like it happening again,” O’Connor added.
“I’ve learnt a lot from physios and nutritionists in terms of the body and how it works and how to help prevent certain issues that I've had.
“I’ll use the summer to get myself in tip-top condition and then come back next year and put this year behind me.”