Cove Rangers defender Harry Milne is itching for more competitive action after ending his six-month injury lay-off against Stirling Albion in the League Cup on Saturday.
The left-back missed the final chunk of last season and underwent surgery on ruptured ankle ligaments back in March.
Milne was delighted to clock up almost 70 minutes on his return – even if Stirling hijacked the day by securing a last-gasp 3-2 victory at Balmoral Stadium despite Fraser Fyvie’s double.
“It was good, I really enjoyed it having not played since January,” said Milne. “It was a bit tough as I need to get some match sharpness back in my legs.
“But I feel better with every training session, a bit sharper.
“When you’re doing stuff with the physio you feel really fit but when you come back to (training with) the boys it’s a different level.
“It’s been quite an indifferent pre-season, coming back without actually playing a game.
“So from the perspective of getting match sharpness back into all the boys it was good.
“I’ve got personal targets to reach too, which are progressing well.
“But there’s nothing quite like an actual game. You do all the runs and make the times but it’s a bit different to chasing a winger back.”
Milne is likely to be right back in the thick of things again on Tuesday as Cove travel to Edinburgh to face Hearts in their second group game (7.45pm).
Tynecastle will have 2,000 fans in attendance and Milne reckons the north-east side will have to capitalise on any chances they get if they are to take anything home from Gorgie.
He said: “Those moments of quality we showed (against Stirling) we’ll have to show again when we get on the ball against Hearts.
“It’ll be tough because we’ll probably spend long periods without the ball, especially with it being only the second game back.
“But we just need to defend solidly as a unit and hopefully hurt them when we do get on the ball.”
Game of patience
Boss Paul Hartley is happy to have Milne back among his options again as Cove bid for promotion from League One in the season ahead.
“It was good,” Hartley said. “He hadn’t played since January so it’s going to take a wee bit of time.
“You think you’re OK and you do all the running but it’s about getting the match-time.
“So it was pleasing to give him a certain amount of the game and I’ll get him involved again on Tuesday night.
“But it’s as long as we’re ready for the first game of the league season against Falkirk (July 31). Hopefully we’re healthy and injury-free for then.”