Relieved Mills thrilled to be back fit and helping the Cobblers cause again

Joseph Mills.Joseph Mills.
Joseph Mills.
Defender has missed over three months

Keith Curle made his first moves in the January transfer market earlier this week but there is another player already in his squad that will feel like a new signing.

Defender Joseph Mills had only played a handful of games for the Cobblers when he went down with an ankle injury against Peterborough United on October 10.

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It was initially thought that the summer signing from Forest Green would only miss a few weeks but further investigation revealed a more serious problem.

“It was quite an innocuous injury at first,” said Mills. “It wasn’t actually the tackle that caused it, I just lost my footing in the turf and my two bones split apart so I had to get a pin put between those and also have some loose bone taken out.

“I got that done and then my road to recovery started. I went down to St George’s Park for three weeks and worked really hard.

“The wattbike has been my best mate for a couple of weeks, which wasn’t enjoyable. But it needed to be done and just to be back out training with the lads over the last week has been great.”

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Mills surpassed even Curle’s expectations to play 80 minutes during Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to MK Dons in the Papa John’s Trophy, his first game in over three months.

“I’m really happy to be back playing again,” added the 31-year-old. “It’s been a long journey.

“When I first got the injury, I expected to be out only for a few weeks but to find out I needed surgery was a tough blow to take.

“But I’ve been working really hard over the last three months and I had a good week’s worth of training behind me.

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“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted but for me, personally, to be on the pitch again was a big plus.

"I wasn't surprised to start. I spoke with the manager and preparation-wise, I would rather start and see how I go and I felt good.

"The manager asked me at half-time how I felt and I was honest because I felt strong. I was taken off with about 10 minutes to go but I thought I could see out the game if I needed to.

"I'm a bit stiff here and there but the ankle feels good. I've worked really, really hard and I know the rewards I'll get if I do that and that's being out on the pitch."

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With Cobblers just a couple of places outside the League One relegation zone, Mills returns at a crucial stage of the season.

“I’m a terrible one for watching games when I know I can’t be involved so it’s been frustrating,” Mills continued.

“Watching games on TV is fine because you’re not emotionally involved and you know you can’t change the outcome but being in the stands or watching iFollow for away games, as I have done for every match, is very hard.

“You know you could be out there making a difference, but the lads have supported each other and shown encouragement in the last few games and I think we have turned a corner now.

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“Hopefully I can help. All I can do is perform on the pitch and put it in the manager’s head that I’m fit and available and give him a selection headache because that’s what we want all over the pitch.”

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