Defender Malvind Benning says he’s feeling as fit as he was before sustaining a knee injury that has kept him out since mid-October after returning to action in today’s victory over Crawley Town.
The left-back’s return lasted 86 minutes before being replaced by Sean Kavanagh during the Stags’ slender 1-0 victory over Crawley Town at the Checkatrade.com Stadium this afternoon.
Benning performed admirably after being drafted straight into the starting line-up by boss Adam Murray, and although he admitted slight apprehension before the contest, Benning believes he has more in the tank going into future Sky Bet League Two fixtures.
“Surprisingly, I felt quite strong during the game, obviously I was a bit anxious having three months out with a serious cruciate injury.
“I don’t think I pushed up as much but that was instructed by the gaffer so I wouldn’t say I clocked miles during the game. I felt strong, when I needed to run I could run. I’d say I am as fit now as I was before [I got injured].”
Manager Murray revealed after the game that one of Benning’s coping mechanisms was practising drills in his house, which the full-back believes has helped his absence go quicker in his mind.
“That’s what I felt I needed to get my confidence up; just getting a ball against the wall and smashing the ball as hard as I could against the wall. It’s a detached house so they (the neighbours) didn’t hear anything,” Benning said.
“Surprisingly it’s [the injury period] gone very fast, I look back and it was ages ago but it’s gone rapid. It’s been repetitive doing leg weights but it’s needed to be done. I’ve just got to maintain my leg weights and strengthening my knee.”
Looking ahead to the future, Benning is cautiously excited about getting back into regular habits that he previously enjoyed earlier in the season, while he also acknowledges that he has to improve in the future to sustain his position.
“[I’m going to] take it steady personally, get back to the routine of getting games on Saturdays, back into a normal routine of training every day and eating right and everything like that.
“I thought I did alright [today], I’m the biggest critic of myself and I just feel in little certain areas I could’ve done better but I want to look at that and steadily bring my way back in.”
After making the shortlist for the Mitre Goal of the Year in 2015, Benning wants to find his feet in front of goal again to help the Stags maintain their place in the upper echelons of the divsion.
“I’d like to say so because I see myself as an attacking full-back so hopefully if I do start getting in those areas I can put some crosses in.
“It’s good getting credit for that (the Goal of the Year), it’s a big achievement. It’s gone now, I’ve come through a tough patch with injury, I just need to get myself back and hopefully score more goals soon.”