GARY Silk has returned to Boston United – but he knows his place in the starting XI is far from assured.
You have to spare a thought for Pilgrims right back Conor Marshall.
This time last year the teenager looked set to be Grimsby Town’s first-choice right back.
But on the eve of the season, managers Paul Hurst and Rob Scott snapped up Silk after his Mansfield Town contract came to an end.
Now lightning has struck twice, with Marshall and Silk yet again vying for that one place in defence.
Silk had the edge with the Mariners, but he knows that he will have a fight on his hands to take the number two shirt off Marshall.
He told The Standard: “I was disappointed when he left last season (for Brigg Town and then Boston).
“Conor’s a good player and there’s nothing to say I’ll play in front of him.
“We all need competition for places.
“He’s a young lad and I’m more experienced, but Jason (Lee, manager) will be fair and whoever deserves it will get the start.
“Conor’s good enough to keep the shirt.”
And handing a starting role over for a second time is not on Marshall’s agenda.
As the teams returned for pre-season training, in July, the 19-year-old told The Standard: “It’s hard when people come in and want to take your place.
“Hopefully, I can seal my spot in the side.
“Fingers crossed, I can play as many games as possible.”
Marshall’s determination to play regularly at a young age is something Silk can relate two.
As a trainee with Portsmouth, he was given League Two experience with loan spells at Barnet, Wycombe Wanderers and Boston United – where he made 14 appearances as a 21-year-old in the 2005-06 campaign.
Now, after seasons with Notts County, Manfield and Grimsby, Silk finds himself back at Boston, although a different player.
He added: “I’ve definitely learned a lot since then.
“I’m not quite the same player. I don’t get up and down as fast as I did, but my game’s definitely improved.
“I’m a lot wiser, and your game improves with experience.”
Silk was one of seven ex-Boston United players to move to Notts County in the summer of 2006.
Jason Lee and Ian Ross did the same, both of whom are currently with United.
Meanwhile, Lawrie Dudfield, Alan White and Lee Canoville also made the move before returning to the Lincolnshire club.
Bizarrely, of the seven to move, only Austin McCann - now plying his trade back in his native Scotland - is the only one not to return.
“It’s good to be back after those years,” Silk added.