Luton midfielder Olly Lee was thrilled to put a frustrating spell on the sidelines behind him when he made his first league start since Boxing Day in the 0-0 draw at Carlisle United on Tuesday night.
The 25-year-old had been restricted to just 85 minutes of League Two football since the 1-0 defeat to Colchester United, having even missed out on being included in the match day squad at times.
I want to keep my place now, you’re going to have to rip the shirt off me!Olly Lee
Asked about his return to the side, Lee said: “It’s great to be back in. It’s been a tough couple of months for me and I’ve obviously been quite frustrated, so it was nice to be back and I enjoyed it out there with the lads.
“Yes, you feel it a little bit (extra presure). You want to play well, but I’m confident in my ability and I know what I’m capable of and hopefully I can help the team out.
“I’m just eager to impress and I’ve just been knocking on the door trying to get back in.
“To be fair to be the lads they’ve been unbeaten the whole time I’ve been out so I can’t really say much.
“But I’m glad to be back, glad to get my chance and I thought I did well.”
When questioned if he had approached manager Nathan Jones about his lack of first team action, Lee said: “Yes, we spoke a lot, I’ve been very frustrated with it and that’s between me and the gaffer.
“It was nice to get my chance and hopefully I grabbed it with both hands.
“I want to keep my place now, you’re going to have to rip the shirt off me!”
On his decision to recall Lee, Jones said: “Olly’s trained well, he’s not out of our plans, and we wanted to pick a footballing side.
“What we say to our players, is, you’re going to get opportunities, all of them are, it’s just how they take those opportunities.
“I’ve no fear about putting Olly in in a massive game like this in terms of the league stature and the team, he’s trained very well, does his extras and he’s deserved that.
“I thought he did excellently. We asked him to get on the ball, he did, probably dusting the cobwebs off for the first 45 and was then far more influential so a credit to him.
“That’s the type of professionals we have and that’s why encourage them do to that day in day out.
“Because when they get an opportunity, there’s no point then turning up and being miles off it as if you do that, you don’t get opportunities again.
“But he didn’t and credit to him, I’m delighted for him.”
Jones had admitted to selecting the likes of Lee and Luke Gambin to give his side four footballing midfielders at Brunton Park.
The former West Ham man felt that suited his skillset perfectly, saying: “That’s what I’m good at, that’s what we look to do, we want to play out from the back and I feel I’m the best man for the job.
“It’s wasn’t as fluid as we would havbe liked, but nice to be back out there and will only get better from here.”
Lee was also noticeably more involved in the physical side of things against the Cumbrians, and it’s something he has been looking to improve on during his time out.
He was even booked by Lee Mason for what he one such challenge, although the midfielder felt it was harsh, saying: “I thought it was a great challenge to be honest, and I got booked for it!
“They (coaching staff) just made me aware of different things, and I always work on my game anyway, so it was just a case of working hard and getting back in the team.
“That’s what a lot of League Two football is about. It’s not just about what you can do on the ball, it’s the horrible side off it, so I’ll be looking to improve on that and hopefully I’m getting better at it.”
Jones felt it was unfortunate for the midfielder to see yellow, adding: “Olly’s was just a bit of a coming together, I thought he won the ball.
“The referee’s a Premier League referee though and I thought he did very, very well, as it was a very competitive game as well, but nothing untoward happened.”