Full back Jordan Cranston admitted 'it feels great to be back' as he made his return to action for Cheltenham Town Reserves in a narrow 2-1 defeat to Bristol City Under-23s in a friendly on Tuesday morning.
The Robins travelled to Bristol for the clash on the 4G pitch at SGS College - after the Central League fixture with MK Dons was called off due to a frozen pitch.
And the match gave Cranston the chance to make his long-awaited return after four months on the sidelines following surgery on a ruptured hamstring suffered against Luton in November.
"It feels great to be back," said Cranston. "I have been out for a long period of time so it is a great feeling just to play 45 minutes. I'm happy to get through with no problem with the injury and happy to get back out playing.
"I feel fitter, stronger and it is amazing to be back out with the lads and playing.
"It's been a long four months. It has been hard going with Gav (Crowe) and the medical and fitness team supporting me.
"It is the best feeling to just get back out there. I am still getting used to it and getting back into the thick of things with match speed and sharpness.
"I was meant to play in the reserve game against MK Dons, but that got called off due to the big freeze.
"Thankfully the gaffer managed to sort a game at the last minute for my benefit and for the lads who have not played much recently."
Cheltenham led in the game courtesy of a header from Brian Graham - with Cranston providing the cross.
But second half goals from Jake Andrews - against the club he is currently on loan for - and Cauley Woodrow saw Bristol take the victory.
"I will take the assist," he smiled. "But I'm even more happy with the way things have panned out for me.
"It has been hard, I have been grafting ever since the injury on my birthday. So I'm just pleased it has gone to plan, I haven't felt anything in my hamstring and touch wood I'm back.
"The plan now is to play as much reserve action as possible. This game was for me to get back in the thick of things.
"I am still a way from competing in the first team, but we have a run of reserve games coming up so hopefully I can play longer, get match fit and push for a recall to the first team."
Cheltenham: Lovett (Clayton 82), Rodon (Moore 45), Onariase, Bower, Cranston (Thomas 45), Odelusi, Pell, Sellars, Adebayo, Wright (Brennan 81), Graham (Lloyd 45).