Zane Banton: ‘I knew I was ready’ as St Albans man makes long-awaited return from broken leg
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City may won their first National League South game of the season against Concord Rangers but the biggest cheer of the day at Clarence Park came at the sight of Zane Banton making his long-awaited return from a broken leg.
The fan favourite suffered the injury at Chippenham in March but has been focused in his battle to regain full fitness, training hard throughout the summer and following stringent medical advice to get him ready.
He did admit, however, that he sometimes wondered if the 70th minute on bank holiday Monday was even possible.
He said: "There were times after the injury when I thought I wouldn't be able to play at this level again.
"It was a serious injury and I was listening to what the surgeons were telling me and all those ifs and maybes.
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"I'm buzzing and I knew I was ready. It was good to finally get out and do it.
"I've had a couple of little problems to be fair but nothing major, all stuff I was told to expect like swelling and stiffness.
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"And if there are people telling you that is normal, you just have to erase it from your mind and focus on the job ahead, which for me was getting back playing.
"I knew it would be hard coming on in the last 20 minutes with our situation but I knew I just had to dig in.
"It doesn't matter how many 6km runs I've done on the treadmill, nothing is as hard as 20 minutes on the pitch when you're trying to see the game out."
Saints form in his absence has not been what the 23-year-old expected at all with Monday's win over the Canvey Island-based side coming at the seventh time of asking.
And there was pressure late on as City fought to preserve their lead.
He said: "I thought we'd be flying. I thought we'd go down a similar route as my first season here when we won the first six but it's gone the other way.
"Maybe that will be the difference this season? Maybe it will be a bad start and a good finish?
"It would have been horrendous if we'd have conceded an equaliser. It would have taken a while to pick ourselves up from that, especially being so close to that first win.
"It was a massive relief to get the three points and it will help us in the next few weeks."
Banton doesn't expect to be starting much in the next few weeks, seeing his return to competitive action just as another part of his long road.
But he is ready to do whatever he can and if his energetic first appearance is anything to go by, St Albans will be all the better for his inclusion.
"At the moment I'm not getting ahead of myself," he said. "I don't expect to be starting next week or even the week after, I still need a few more cameos like that.
"But there will be one Saturday where I do start and the 70 minutes or so will be tough but it will be another milestone.
"It will mean I can do it."