AFTER making his long-awaited return from injury, David Atkinson has thanked Darlington physio Danny O’Connor his assistance in getting him back on the pitch having spent almost five months on the sidelines.

He suffered ankle ligament damage in pre-season, hardly an ideal start to his time with Quakers having joined last summer from Blyth Spartans.

While he tried to play through the pain barrier in the early stages of the season, ultimately the injury led to surgery and missing 25 matches.

But Atkinson is now available for action, making his comeback as a substitute against Guiseley last week, and then returning to the starting line-up in the defeat at Chester.

“It’s been a long time out and I’ve only trained a few times. The club have been fantastic and Danny has been unbelievable,” said Atkinson, who replaced the rested Will Hatfield against Chester in midfield.

“He sorted it out for me to use an underwater treadmill at Teesside University in my rehab.”

The injury was sustained during a friendly against Halifax Town at Blackwell Meadows, and Atkinson added: “It was a freak accident. I was stretching for the ball and it was a nothing tackle, it was not a bad one, but he caught me on the side and it did a lot more damage than we first thought.

“I shouldn’t have come back at the start of the season, but we were struggling for players and I just wanted to get on the pitch. I was playing through the pain barrier, I was desperate to play.

“Luke Trotman had got injured and we had no other right-back at the time, so the gaffer asked me to help out and I don’t mind playing there.

“It’s much better now and I don’t get any pain from it so, Danny has been brilliant for me and, touch wood, it’s all sorted now.

“I had ten-15 minutes the other night and 80 minutes against Chester, but I’m glad to get it done and get started again.”

With Hatfield due to return the starting XI tomorrow after missing out against Chester, Atkinson may find himself out of the line-up this weekend, but Atkinson points out he is versatile so able to play in several positions.

He said: “I like to play in front of the back-four, or in the middle of a back-three to mop up around there, but I don’t mind playing anywhere.

“I’ve played left-back and right-back, and I played right-midfield and centre-midfield at Carlisle.

“I’ve played in League Two where there’s a lot of long ball, but I prefer to get the ball down, and play and that suits me in this team.”