Paul McShane says he’s delighted to be back in first team contention for the closing stages of the season, but admits he can’t believe he’s actually available for selection.
The Republic of Ireland international had been ruled out for the rest of the season after damaging ankle ligaments against Nottingham Forest last month, with initial estimates suggesting he might even struggle to make it back for pre-season.
However, McShane made a surprise return to the squad for last week’s game against Wolves and is now hoping to round off an impressive season by playing a part in the Tigers’ final league games against Barnsley and Cardiff.
“I couldn’t quite believe it myself when I was on the bench at Wolves because I had sort of come to terms with the fact that my season was finished,” said McShane.
“The scan said that I’d torn two of the main ligaments in my ankle which should have ruled me out for the rest of the season.
“But the next morning I remember thinking ‘it doesn’t actually feel too bad’ and I was running around my house a little bit trying to test it out.
“I went back to the club doctor and he said it looked pretty sturdy, so the physios kept pushing me to see how much I could do and it turned out to be fine so I got back into full training.”
Being available for selection again is a case of perfect timing for McShane, whose excellent form this season has played a part in the Tigers’ push for automatic promotion.
Steve Bruce takes his side to Barnsley on Saturday looking to cross the finishing line and McShane admits it’s an exciting time for the club.
“Obviously I never wanted to miss the run-in,” added McShane.
“It’s good to be available again and because it turned out that I wasn’t out for a long as I thought I’d be, I still feel fit.
“I think the position we’re in this season is great. For the last couple of years, we’ve been aiming for sixth place which I thought was a bit below standard.
“We’re in the top two now and we want to get the job finished. It probably should have been done by now, but we’re just keeping the fans on their toes!
“But seriously, we want to finish the job.”
While the Tigers know that a win at Oakwell will take them up regardless of Watford’s result against Leicester on Friday night, Barnsley need the points for very different reasons as they battle to preserve their Championship status and McShane knows how difficult a game it will be.
“Oakwell is never an easy place to go to, and especially now with Barnsley fighting for their lives,” said McShane.
“They need a win and I think it will be a very good game. We’re taking over 5,000 fans with us, so it will be a good atmosphere and a game to look forward to.”
Hear a full interview with Paul McShane on TIGERS Player later.