When Harrogate Town forward Jordan Thewlis went under the surgeon’s knife in December, it looked as if his season was over before it had even really begun.
In need of some game-time having recently recovered from a hamstring problem, the 26-year-old had gone out on loan to Boston United in National League North.
His spell there lasted the grand total of 21 minutes after a hefty challenge from Chorley’s Callum O’Keefe left him with serious ankle ligament damage.
Prior to that, he’d managed just four starts and one appearance from the bench in a Harrogate shirt due to some bad luck with injuries.
And at the start of his rehabilitation process following surgery on his ankle, Thewlis didn’t know if he would even play again in 2018/19, let alone go on to score the goal that ultimately rubber-stamped Town’s place in the National League play-offs.
“I thought the season was done for me, getting injured and having an operation in December, so I’m just grateful to be back playing,” he said after scoring one and assisting another in Easter Monday’s 2-0 home win over Gateshead.
“I’m happy to be having an impact in games for the lads.
“They’ve had to do all the hard work getting us into this position, so if I can come in and chip in with goals and assists then I’m delighted to do that.”
Thewlis certainly has made an impact in recent matches.
He twice used his pace to get in behind the Leyton Orient defence on Good Friday, hitting a post and seeing a second effort cleared off the goal-line.
Three days later, he was at it again, and admits to feeling some nerves after beating the offside trap in the 41st minute of Monday’s clash with Gateshead.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Thewlis added.
“Obviously I’ve gone round him [Gateshead goalkeeper Aynsley Pears] and onto my left foot, my swinger. I just needed to concentrate because I had a million thoughts going through my head about the two I had at Orient, but luckily it’s gone in. It’s done and I’m off the mark.”
Thewlis and his team-mates now have a play-off clash with either AFC Fylde or Wrexham to look forward to in May, and the former Gainsborough Trinity and Scarborough Athletic man says the pressure is off.
“We’re very happy. It’s a big achievement for the club,” he added.
“At the start of the season everyone was telling us that we’d probably get relegated, so it’s nice to prove them wrong and we’ve got nothing to lose with people not expecting us to get in the play-offs.
“It’s a free hit for us, but in the dressing room all the lads think we can do it and beat whoever is in front of us.
“We’ve just got to get our heads around it now and prepare because the job’s not done yet.”