9:30am Tuesday 1st October 2013
By David Pritchard
James Constable’s willingness to play through the pain is an example of the attitude in Oxford United’s squad, according to manager Chris Wilder.
The striker made a surprise return to the squad on Saturday, just three weeks after chipping a bone in his foot.
It was initially feared he could spend up to twice as long on the sidelines, but with the U’s hit by injuries and suspensions for the visit to Hartlepool, Constable volunteered.
Despite only coming through one training session, the No 9, who turns 29 on Friday, put in a useful 20 minutes as the U’s claimed a 3-1 victory at Victoria Park.
He was not the only one, with Tyrone Marsh making the bench despite an ankle knock, while Sean Rigg played 80 minutes just one week after returning from a torn hamstring.
Wilder praised Constable, known as Beano, for putting the team first.
He said: “It was brilliant from Beano to put his hand up.
“He is still in quite a bit of pain, but we understand that it won’t cause any lasting damage.
“He wanted to be a part of it, which is great. It was the same with Tyrone – and there is a real buzz about the place at the moment.
“Beano went on and that’s what we needed in the last 20 minutes. It was just having that experience to hold the ball up, which he did and it helped us get over the line.”
Wilder thought it summed up the mood in the squad, which bodes well for the rest of the campaign.
He said: “We have talked about flaky players and we certainly haven’t got that, mentally or physically.
“I still think there is more to come for us in our play.
“This is an important period and we have to hang on in there, we’ve got to keep picking up results, which we managed to do at Hartlepool.
“We have got to do that in the next two or three weeks and hopefully the group gets strong while we are maintaining our position.”
Constable, who needed a pain-killing injection to play, will be eased back into full training this week.
Wilder believes it could take time before last season’s top scorer is firing on all cylinders, but felt even when only half-fit there was a role for him to play.
He said: “It might be like that for the next two or three weeks, but just having him in and around it is a big boost for the players and the supporters.”
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