CRAIG GORDON has revealed his fears over a first-team comeback when he sustained a knee injury in the second half of the season.
The 36-year-old keeper had already lost his No.1 spot to Scott Bain and was battling to get the gloves back when the problem struck.
Gordon, who played his first competitive game of 2019 in the 2-0 Champions League qualifying win over Nomme Kalju in Tallinn on Tuesday, admitted the feeling of dread when he first suffered the setback.
The Scotland international, speaking to the Evening Times, said; “When I first got the injury my first thought was: ‘I’m in trouble here, definitely’.
“But, having had a very similar thing with my other knee, I knew how tough it was going to be. It took me two years to get right the last time. This time it was seven months, so I must have learned my lesson having come back sooner.
“There have been niggling doubts at various points since. Even during the hard work in pre-season, I would come off training and my knee would be sore with a lot of fluid in it. I’d have to go back and ice it up.
“But it responded really well and I’ve taken part in more training sessions that I maybe thought I would be able to. And I feel in great shape because of that.”
Gordon added: “It was great to be back out there – it felt like it had been a long time. It was great to get my first 90 minutes in. I hadn’t managed to do that in pre-season, so it felt good. It’s a big stepping stone for me, a big hurdle and I was relatively happy with the way it went.
“Being out for the length of time I was out was tough. To be out of the team, whether it was the manager’s choice or you’re injured, it’s difficult to find the strength to come back again and show what you’re made of.
“It’s been a challenge, I’m not going to lie. But finally, I’m in a position now where I can start to compete again and give my best on the pitch when I’m chosen to play.
“I just want to play as many games as I can.”
Boss Neil Lennon has insisted the fight for the goalkeeper’s position is open – as CQN reported earlier this week– and it will be a case of the better man winning possession of the gloves.
Gordon played consistently up to the turn of the year and performed well in the 1-0 loss at Ibrox in December. Brendan Rodgers gave Bain a run-out in the 3-0 victory over Airdrie in the Scottish Cup-tie and the former Dundee shotstopper remained in place for the rest of the campaign.
Lennon, though, has admitted he looks for different qualities in his last line of defence than his predecessor and the duel between two good mates will be an intriguing one as the season unfolds.