It’s been a long, hard road to recovery for central defender Tom Eckersley this year but he finally made his long awaited return to First Team action in Tuesday night’s Lancashire FA Trophy defeat to Holker Old Boys.

It was ten months to the day when Tom last walked onto the pitch in a Fylde shirt – on 11 January in the 1-0 win against Ashton United he had to be stretchered off in the second half due to a serious knee injury.

Tom explains exactly what happened: “I ruptured my ACL, two cartilages and the ligament.  I had an operation in February and it’s been a long road back to recovery, frustrating at times, but it’s just something you’ve got to get through.

“You can’t do anything about it as once it’s done all you can do is work hard and get back playing football.”

Full credit to Tom for staying focused and making what is a speedy recovery from such an horrific injury and he was delighted to make what was only his eleventh appearance for the club on Tuesday.

“It was great! I’ve been waiting for this and to get on the pitch for a long time.  I’ve played a few reserve games but to finally get on the pitch for the First Team was a good feeling and it was great.”

Tom acknowledged that the defeat on penalties to Holker Old Boys, a team playing four leagues below The Coasters in the North West Counties Division One, was a night to forget for the club but added: “On a personal level it was good to get 90 minutes for the First Team and hopefully I can take that into the league whenever my chance comes.”

It’s going to take something special for him to topple one of either Josh Langley or Tom Hannigan from the central defensive partnership they have built up and Tom praised those two for their efforts at the start of this season: “They’ve done well all season and I’m not going to moan about not playing because they have done well.

“But obviously there’s going to be injuries and suspensions and they are going to have bad games so whenever my chance comes then I’ve got to take it and get hold of that shirt on a Saturday.”

Tom has shown huge ambition to get back into the First Team fold and now aims to help make it another memorable campaign for him and the club: “I just want to get back into the team, playing regularly like I was before my injury.

“And for the team, I want to get promoted which we’re on course with doing if we keep up the performances we are doing.  We’ve not been as good of late, but I’m sure we’ll be back up there with the level of performance.”

Watch the full interview with Tom Eckersley on the club’s YouTube channel or just click on the link above.