Jon Stead hoping to play more minutes for Harrogate Town following spell out in the cold
The former Premier League star turned 38 last week, but feels that he still has plenty to offer having made a positive impression off the substitutes’ bench against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
That appearance was his first in three months and clearly served as a reminder to Simon Weaver of what his veteran striker is capable of, the Sulphurites boss going on to describe Stead’s performance as “brilliant".
And, while not bitter about falling behind Jack Muldoon, Aaron Martin, Mark Beck and Josh March in the pecking order, the ex-Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers man says he would like to be given the opportunity over the coming weeks to help arrest Town’s recent slump.
"I've been fully fit the whole time, really. I've been available, but obviously the manager has been looking at different options, some of the younger players, and that has meant that I have had to wait my turn," Stead told the Harrogate Advertiser.
"But, that is football and I understand that side of the game, so I'm not complaining. Of course it has been frustrating for me, I'm getting towards the end of my career, this may or may not be my last season, so I want to be playing as much as possible.
"I think that I have been training well, particularly these last couple of weeks, and I think that has helped the manager to make the decision to throw me back in.
"Hopefully, I've done enough against Bolton to keep my place in the squad for the remainder of the season. I hope I can play a bit more of a part. When I have played, I think I have contributed throughout my time at Harrogate, so I don't see why it should be any different for the remainder of this season.
"I want to be involved as much as possible in helping the lads get out of this difficult spell that we are in, help guide them, and help us pick up some results."
Stead's last outing in Harrogate colours came on January 9 when he made an eight-minute cameo from the substitutes' bench at Cambridge United.
Since that point, Town have played 18 League Two matches, though the club's most experienced player has not even made it as far as their match-day 17.
There were however no signs of rust when Stead took to the field at the University of Bolton Stadium just after the hour-mark took the place of Beck.
"Physically I feel fine. I felt okay when I came on against Bolton, I felt comfortable in terms of my fitness, but we have been doing a lot of work. Even when you're not in a match-day squad you are in on a Saturday morning doing a lot with the fitness coach,"he added.
"I've been doing what I needed to do for the three months since I've been involved and just kept myself ticking over and made sure I was in the right shape as and when needed.
"I've been training fully, I've not had any knocks, I had a little niggle last weekend which probably kept me off the bench.
"I picked it up the day before [Walsall] in training on the Thursday which was frustrating, so I just had to manage this over the week and made sure I was alright for Bolton."
As pleased as he was to be back out there, Stead admits that he was still disappointed not be able to convert two late headed chances as Town were edged out 2-1.
"Obviously its been a while since I've been in a squad, so to get the opportunity and to get on was great, I was just disappointed with how the game finished," he said.
"I still would have liked to have scored, to be honest, their goalkeeper has pulled off a good save and then I've had another header shortly afterwards which I feel I could have done better with, so as a typical striker I'm still coming away from the game wondering what if?
"I thought the first header was going in. The keeper was scrambling over and I didn't think he was going to get there, but he got a strong hand on it in the end. I was hoping he might push it into the net, but it's a great save to be fair, you can't do much more.
"The second one, I'm tussling a little bit but there's no real excuse, I should be getting that on target, so I was disappointed with that one.
"But as far as my performance, I felt right at home again. I've played a lot of games now so nothing is new to me. It was just nice to be back out there."