Grimsby Town's Aswad Thomas ready for comeback following suspension
ASWAD Thomas is finally back from suspension after the longest 11 days of his career.
When the left-back was sent off in the New Year's Day derby with Lincoln City, his lay-off should have been short-lived.
He would serve the first of his three-games out in the match with Hereford the following Saturday before missing the trips to Gateshead three days later and then Welling United in the FA Trophy.
A three-match suspension all over in the space of 11 days – simple...or so he thought.
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After he sat out the home draw with the Bulls, the wintry weather really took hold, meaning that the clashes with the Heed, and then Thomas' former club Braintree Town both fell by the wayside.
As a result, the former Charlton trainee had to wait until Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Hyde to serve the third and final game of his suspension – ten days later than he had expected.
"It's been very frustrating," the 23-year-old told the Telegraph.
"When I first got sent off, because of the way the games were at that time, it only looked like I was going to be out for just over a week. But with the postponements it's been a lot longer than that.
"The first week wasn't so bad, but then it started dragging on and games were getting postponed and I knew I wasn't getting games out of the way, so it was annoying.
"At one point, it looked as though I was going to have to miss the game against Braintree and that was a big thing for me.
"It was supposed to be on TV and obviously it was my first game back at my old club. So it would have killed me if that had been called off, but thankfully it's ended up working out for me in the end.
"It's been a long wait, but I'm back now and can't wait to play again," he added.
After being struck down with illness during his lay-off, Thomas has declared himself fit and raring to go ahead of tomorrow's trip to Cambridge.
And although he doesn't expect to walk back into the Town side – which he knows have performed well in his absence – he is determined to regain the left-back slot from the deputising Bradley Wood.
"I can't wait to get back and it would be good to be able to get back tomorrow given the opportunity," he commented.
"The best thing has been able to train this week in the knowledge that there is a game for me to play in at the end of it.
"I've been a bit ill during my time out and that has meant that I haven't been in with the boys as much as I would have liked.
"So it's good to be able to get back amongst it.
"Brad is a good player and he's done well while I've been out – the whole team has.
"But I've just got to get my head down and keep working hard in the hope that I can get back.
"I'm certainly not expecting to just walk back into the team though.
"No-one's guaranteed a start here and that's the way it should be.
"That's the competition you want and that's the main reason I came here. I don't want to be at a club where I'm comfortable – you don't push yourself that way."
Thomas, who was called up to the England C side earlier this week, added: "The biggest thing for me is that I'll be coming back into a team that's at the top of the league.
"I was buzzing for the boys to see them go back to the top again.
"We're at the top outright as well – everyone has played their games so that's a big thing for us. The aim now is to live up to that position and stay on top.
"Cambridge didn't start the best but they've pushed on recently and they're a good side. It's a good set-up down there and it will be a tough game for us tomorrow.
"We're top of the league and everyone wants to beat us so we've got to be ready.
"With some of the other teams not playing, it's a good opportunity for us open up a bit of a gap and one that we need to take if we're serious about winning this league.
"Now is the time for us to be putting a run together, picking up three points and pulling away."