Lewis Gard was pleased to be handed his first start for Southend United on Saturday after a torrid spell out of action due to a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Following his return to full fitness, the promising midfielder was loaned out to Heybridge Swifts in a bid to build up his match minutes, and that worked to his advantage as he returned to Blues, featuring in the last two games.
Despite the 4-1 defeat to Notts County, Gard was happy to be back in the first team for the first time in 14 months and is keen to build on his performance.
“It was brilliant to be back in the side,” said Gard
“I just wanted to get back from loan and play football for Southend again. After 10 minutes on Tuesday, I was happy to get the start but obviously the result wasn’t the best and not what we wanted.
“When I found out I was playing, I was buzzing and I enjoyed every minute of it.
“It was a lot different [from Heybridge Swifts]. The game was a lot quicker and sharper [than what I’ve been used to], but I felt fine.”
Gard was replaced by Nathan Ferguson in the 68th minute when Blues were 2-1 down at the time.
Gard added: “Personally, the manager said I did well, but it was a change of personnel needed.
“It was a tough result to take, but we forget about it now, move on and go again Saturday.
“It’s all a learning curve. We spoke in there [the changing room] after the game and for 60 minutes it was a good team performance.
“We can build on that against a good team and go from there.
“The aim [for me] is to stay in the team, get more minutes and start playing well.”Blues were backed tremendously once again by 894 fans who made the trip up to Nottingham, and Gard was keen to thank them for their support.
“It was brilliant. The whole 90 minutes we heard them, travelling all the way up was unbelievable.
“It helps us get going, and it’s a shame we couldn’t give them a good result.
“If they keep on doing what they’re doing, hopefully, we can get the right results.”
Southend host Dorking Wanders on Saturday in their first-ever FA Trophy appearance, hoping to return to winning ways.
And Gard will be looking to continue in the first team, saying: “I can play in the FA Trophy next week; I was told not to feature for Heybridge.”