STUART Tomlinson is delighted to be back in the Burton Albion side after three months out injured — and is hopeful a long-term deal can be made to keep him at the club.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper returned from a torn cruciate knee ligament in last week’s 1-0 victory over Barnet at the Pirelli Stadium.
Now, he is hoping to enter talks with manager Gary Rowett about extending his contract, which is on a month-to-month basis.
“My aim is to try to play as many game as possible before the end of the season,” he said. “I’ve only played 11 or 12 games here and in a season there’s 40-odd games.
“I’ve missed a good three months of it but again I’m on a month-to-month contract and I’d like to earn a longer deal and stay in the team.
“My current contract runs out February 7. Hopefully, the manager will come and speak to me, but that’s not in my hands.”
Tomlinson has healed rapidly from his torn posterior cruciate ligament and has been raring to get back in the side and show Albion fans what he can do.
“I’ve felt good in training so it’s nice for the manager to put me in,” said the keeper. “I didn’t have a lot to do against Barnet.
“If it had been between me and Deano (Lyness) to play, we both would have done the job equally well.
“It’s nice to get a clean sheet. I haven’t had any first-team action for a while so hopefully that can continue and the injury’s behind me.
“It’s fine — there have been no bumps and no-one’s really come near me. I’ve had more to do in training than in games.
“I feel good and have felt good for a few weeks.
“There’s a big thank you needed for (physios) James (Rowlands) and (Jack) Sharkey for putting me through my paces.
“It’s been more than a month I’ve felt fine and have wanted to train, it’s not just this week I’ve felt fit.
“It was meant to be six months but it’s only been three.
“For two of them you know you’re injured but the last month I’ve felt fine.
“It’s nice to be back playing.”
It is not the first time that Tomlinson has suffered a serious knee injury – and even badly damaged the same one which just healed.
But it is testament to his toughness that the keeper wanted to stay on against Port Vale and try to run the injury off.
“I did my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) — and I’ve done the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the same knee,” said the former Port Vale man.
“It’s not too bad. I think a lot of rugby players injure that ligament quite regularly.
“There was a low ball into the box against Port Vale when they equalised and my knee was in the air.
“There was an impact which forced my shin back.
“I was quite lucky in a way because it could have broken my leg. It’s just one of those things.
“When it happened I knew something wasn’t right. James came on and checked my knee. There’s a test for your cruciate. He pulled my knee and there was a lot of movement in it.
“I said ‘let’s see how it is’ but he said that I needed to come off.
“It’s not as bad as the ACL I did. I will admit it was hard coming back from that.
“They’re supposed to be nine months but I was back in about five, if that.
“It’s easier being a goalkeeper because you don’t have to do all the twisting and turning but I’ve been fine and hopefully there’ll be no more injuries from here.
“Hopefully, I am a fast healer — I spend a lot of time in the gym but when you get that rest the body does well.”
Tomlinson, who has an alias for his modelling work — Rupert Paddington Gomez — has not wasted his time while out injured.
He has hit the gym hard during his enforced absence and it has helped to maintain his fitness levels.
“I’ve been caning the gym,” he said. “I’ve been doing two or three sessions a day.
“The way I look at things, you’ve got to stay on top of things and keep fit.”
The keeper also spares a thought for team-mate Dean Lyness, who has dropped out to allow his return to the pitch.
“Deano’s done really well, so fair do’s to him,” said Tomlinson. “I’m really happy for him.
“Everyone wants to play but it’s only a good thing that he’s come in and proved himself.
“It’s for me to push him and now for him to push me.
“We get on well. Decisions have to be made and we spoke about it. There’s no bitterness.”