Antony Kay knows he’ll have to work hard to get back into the MK Dons side after spending two months on the side lines.
Kay returned to first team action against Port Vale on Saturday, replacing Stephen Gleeson in the latter stages of the 3-0 win, before getting more minutes under his belt against Crawley on Boxing Day, following his hip operation.
But with on loan defender Jordan Spence and Shaun Williams keeping four clean sheets in a row, Kay knows he won’t simply go straight back into the starting line-up when he returns to full fitness.
“It was good to come on and get the legs working again. I’ve had a long time out, the longest I’ve had in my career, and I’m happy to be back.
“The lads are winning, they’re in great form so I’ve got to put up with starting on the bench at the moment. But I can’t complain, they’ve been great in the last few weeks.
“I’m not used to being on the bench! I’d rather be playing than watching, but that’s the same of any player. I can’t complain though, everyone is on top form at the moment.”
On a difficult Checkatrade.com Stadium pitch, Dons weren’t able to play their usual swift passing style, instead opting for a more direct approach.
And Kay admitted it wasn’t an ideal surface - slow and heavy - to make a return on.
“It wasn’t an ideal game to come in to, it wasn’t a passing game,” he said. “You had to dig in and battle it out, which I think we did really well. We killed the game off and it shows we can do the messy bits.
“I think if you can win at places like this, in the past we’ve struggled and it has been our downfall.
“You’ve got to win at places like this if you want to get out of this league.”
With four wins out of four, and clean sheets in each, Dons look to have put behind them a torrid end to 2013.
And Kay believes the club is over their sticky patch at the perfect time.
He said: “We’re climbing the league, and we’ve got Brentford next which will be touch, but confidence is high. It’s good that is has come over Christmas and the New Year where games start piling up.
“Every club goes through bad spells and we’ve had ours. We’ve had meetings, we’ve been talking to each other and we’ve cracked it now.
“The young lads are starting to gel, everyone’s happy and we hope it continues.”