Iron skipper Sam Slocombe is returning to first team action this week, over two months since his last appearance.Slocombe was injured in the Capital One Cup victory over Blackburn Rovers, a 1-0 win at Ewood Park, and was on the bench for the last three matches.
However, Scunthorpe’s number one is back for this weekend’s trip to Peterborough, with on loan goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik unable to play against his parent club.
Slocombe was raring to come back into the starting line up but knew that rushing himself too early wasn’t a sensible option.
He said, “It’s just nice to come back. My first game was back on the bench last Saturday (against Colchester) and the fans were fantastic to me with kind words and the round of applause but it’ll be nice to get back on the pitch and play football again.
“Ten weeks without a game is quite a lot but sometimes that’s what happens. It’s not nice (sitting watching), especially when you’re not picking up the results that sometimes the performances deserve.
"It’s not been nice watching but being a professional in a contact sport you’ve always got that opportunity that you can become injured so you have to accept that.
“From a background of studying I kind of understand how the body heals which makes me feel a bit better about being injured as I know what my body is doing, and as long as you work with it you kind of know what you can do to improve it.
"The worst thing is being out of the team but you have to accept that in a contact sport.”
Slocombe returns with Mark Robins as the manager of Scunthorpe United and he will hope to impress his new boss with some impressive performances and clean sheets.
The 26-year-old goalkeeper made his first appearance since his injury in the reserves' win over Burton Albion on Monday, a game which saw him keep a clean sheet.
Despite being a seemingly comfortable game, a 6-0 victory for the Iron, the returning shotstopper was pleased with how he played in his return to competitive action.
He said: “It was quite a good game to come back to because we put quite a strong team out. It’s always nice to play when you’ve got 10 pros out and you can’t complain with 6-0. It’s great to be back playing after 10 or 11 weeks, I think it is.
“We kept the ball a lot which means as a keeper you come into the game as an extra outfield player. So I got a lot of the ball. I forgot how much it takes out of you mentally because mentally you haven’t recovered fully the next day.
“He’s (Robins) only really had five or six days that he could really work with us. I think the progression between when he first came into the Notts County game, until now, has been outstanding considering he’s only had six days.
"I thought the performance against Notts County was really good for 80 minutes and then we blew up a little bit of steam. What they’re doing on the training ground is really showing and I have no doubts that what the staff are doing will change it.
“They are very experienced and have been at some really good clubs. They have seen the game at a higher level and seen it at this level.
"They understand that to win games you have to make a lot of high intensity runs, whether that’s with or without the ball, and that’s one thing that we’re working on every day.
"They want us to play in the right manner and pass the ball, not turn down forward passes and to also be creative on the ball. He wants us to play but he’s not demanding us to do it every time.
"If there’s a point when you’re almost forcing it then if you have to clear your lines then you have to clear your lines.
"He accepts if you play the pretty stuff all the time then teams will set up to stop us so sometimes we might need to the ugly stuff to allow us to get on the ball and do what he wants us to do.”
During his time on the treatment table, Slocombe’s replacement has been Bobby Olejnik, who is on loan from Peterborough.
The Austrian keeper has settled in well at Glanford Park and his fellow goalkeeper is full of praise for Olejnik - not just for his performances on the field but also for his attitude and personality off it.
Slocombe said: “Bobby’s been fantastic. He’s come into a difficult position because we haven’t picked up the points we should have but he’s come in and been fantastic.
"He’s a very good shotstopper and that’s shown in his performances where he has pulled off some unbelievable saves.
"He’s become another asset to the club, he’s a great guy in himself, a good person to be around in training and on the pitch he’s really put in the performances.
“It’s fortunate for me to go in there and stake my claim for the shirt (this weekend). It’s kind of fallen really well the recovery from the injury to this game. When we first saw the specialist we were told between 8-12 weeks, so there was a small chance I wouldn’t be available for this game but after the first two weeks of the injury I had no worries that I wouldn’t be back for this game.
"I’ve been back training a couple of weeks and if the manager had asked me to step up and play I’d have played but Bobby’s been fantastic and he hasn’t needed to do that.
“The last time I got injured I said that when you come back from injury it almost feels easier and the game feels easier to play. It’s maybe because you have some time off to reflect on how you deal with situations and mature over that period.
"There would have been times earlier in my career where coming back I would have had some nerves but it was nice to go and play a competitive game of football and do what I usually do.
“If you look at their result at the weekend they were 2-0 up, which shows they are an attacking team that will create chances, however they lost the game 3-2 which kind of sums Peterborough up this year in the sense that they will score goals but they’ll provide you with opportunities to score at the other end as well.
“If you looked at last year we got 23 clean sheets but we’ve only been able to field one of the back five from last year in the past six or so games so there have been a lot of changes.
"However the lads that have come in are more than capable of doing that (getting the clean sheets) but if you keep a clean sheet you always give yourself a chance to win the game.
"The thing is we have some very talented attacking players so you kind of have to give them some license to play their game because they can win the game for us. We’re addressing that and we would really like to keep some more clean sheets.”
See much more from Sam Slocombe, Mark Robins and Paddy Madden on The Iron Player.