Nearly 800 days separated Ben Gladwin's last performance and his MK Dons debut on Saturday.
A knee injury suffered after Blackburn's 1-1 draw with Rochdale in the Football League Trophy on November 7, 2017 threatened to curtail his career at just 25. Struggling to maintain his fitness during that time, Gladwin was offered a short-term deal at Ewood Park but when that expired earlier this month, Gladwin sought out Luke Williams to train with MK Dons. Impressing the right people, he earned a deal at Stadium MK on Friday and went straight into Russell Martin's squad for the trip to Coventry City.
Coming on for Player of the Month Alex Gilbey on 72 minutes, Gladwin ended his 795-day drought between professional appearances. There were, of course, signs of ring-rust but a particular chase and tackle on Fankaty Dabo showed he still had the desire and nous to break up the play.
"I'm conscious he hasn't played for a long time but sometimes people just need a chance," said Martin afterwards. "He's obviously got quality. Luke Williams and Ryan Harley both know him, know exactly what kind of character he is, and fits what we want in the squad. He's different to what we had in the building, and we're really pleased.
"He has deserved it. He's trained really hard with us and looked excellent. The players were really impressed with him, and we've been really impressed with him. We didn't think he'd be at the level he's at already, but he worked extremely hard at Blackburn to get himself in good physical condition. Now he just needs minutes on the pitch.
"For him, it's a big boost. Hopefully now he'll go from strength to strength and will become an important player for us."