Stags’ defender George Taft is pleased to be reaping the rewards of his hard work after a frustrating six-month spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
The 23-year-old former Burton Albion defender joined the Stags last summer but suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-0 defeat against Barnet in September 2016, which ultimately ruled him out for six months.
But Taft was named in the starting XI in last week’s Sky Bet League Two clash against Exeter City and the defender said he was ‘buzzing’ to be involved.
“I was a bit surprised to get the start but obviously buzzing to get going, to be out there and to be back with the team," the centre-half said.
“I was very pleased with my 60 minutes. It came as a surprise but I was just thankful that I got a bit of time.
“It seems so long ago now but it’s good that all the hard work I’ve put in is finally showing and I’m getting the rewards.
“I’ve been in early every morning getting treatment, getting out of here late doing extra work, doing bits when I get home, eating right, living right, making sure I look after my body and that it's healing right.
“It’s been five months of graft and hard work and it’s hard work watching the lads doing so well and not being involved. I just want to be involved and be around that winning mentality.”
Saturday’s appearance at One Call Stadium was also the first appearance the former Leicester City trainee has made under boss Steve Evans and he admits it was difficult when the manager first joined the club, as the hamstring injury meant he couldn’t make an impression.
“It’s hard at the beginning because everyone’s impressing and working hard and I’m just in the shadow, so I’ve just had to try and do catch up.
“I’m enjoying it now; enjoying my football, enjoying it under the new gaffer and everything’s going well.
“I’ve been in training a while now and working hard and hopefully he’s seen [that] and I’ll keep getting chances.”
Taft has been impressed by the impact that manager Steve Evans has had since joining the club and believes there’s still more to come from the Stags this season.
“It’s incredible what the gaffer and that have done since they’ve come in. The whole club’s just rose to the occasion and really stuck in. The lads have worked hard and I think we’ve still got more to give and hopefully we can do it.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday [against Doncaster]. Hopefully I can be involved. It’s a massive game; obviously they can get promoted and we want to spoil that so it’s going to be a big crowd and a big occasion.
“Knowing the group, everyone’s up for it. The bigger games and big occasions, everyone turns up, we don’t hide so I think we’ll go out there trying to win and I think we can.
“We’ve got some big individuals in the group that just in training and in the dressing room bring it alive and there’s loads of banter flying around but when it comes to seriousness and training, the work gets put in, so it’s a good group.”
Supporters can view George Taft’s news conference, in full, by logging on to Stags PlayerHD.