Lewis Gibbens was devastated when a shoulder injury brought last season to an abrupt end - but now the defender believes his time on the sidelines will be the making of him.
The Mansfield Town teenager has returned to Boston United on a three-month loan, looking for the match experience which can help him force his way into the Stags’ starting XI.
It was while playing for United that he dislocated his shoulder in the 1-0 defeat at Spennymoor Town last January.
At the time he had made nine appearances, scoring once in the 5-4 win at Guiseley, and had agreed to extend his loan until the end of the season.
“When I dislocated my shoulder I was in the gym for six months and that developed me a lot. I’m seeing the benefits now,” said the 19-year-old, who has returned to York Street a more imposing figure.
“It was horrible (the injury). I was playing some of my best football at the time, feeling very confident and improving.
“These things happen in football. I’ve reacted positively and I’m in a better place now.”
Gibbens now finds himself competing with experienced National League North campaigners Luke Shiels, Simon Ainge and Ben Middleton for a place in the heart of the Pilgrims’ defence.
“There’s good centre backs here already,” Gibbens added.
“The competition’s healthy so I’m looking forward to it. I want to get more minutes and develop more as a player.
“This level’s very good. Hopefully, it can get me ready for League Two football.”