TOM CRADDOCK put his injury woes behind him – and focused on a festive goal flurry.
Craddock has targeted being at full throttle for the Christmas period, after making his return against Newport County.
The 27-year-old got 55 minutes under his belt in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss at Rodney Parade.
It was Craddock’s first start since the Capital One Cup trip to Bournemouth on August 6.
A succession of niggles have reduced him to six cameos off the bench since that game.
But the striker is now confident those groin and knee problems are firmly behind him.
Craddock is aiming to be at his best for his new club going into a busy December fixture list, as he puts a ‘horrible’ spell behind him.
That means building on his match fitness and sharpness going into that congested period.
Craddock said: ‘I have had a couple of weeks training and I got the run out against Newport.
‘So I have to make sure I stay fit and try to break into the team around the busy Christmas period.
‘I’ve been out a long time and I’m not Superman.
‘So I’ve almost got a pre-season within a season now.
‘So I’ll be doing all my extra bits of running after training to get me to where I need to be.
‘It’s been awful and horrible but I’m back now so I need to get my head down, work hard and bring some goals to the team and help the team do well.’
Craddock has dismissed any notion there are lingering problems with his injuries.
He feels his record on that front stands up to inspection.
And he stated those problems which have hindered him this season are firmly in the past.
Craddock said: ‘If you look at my injury record, I had one long injury at Oxford, which I recovered from.
‘Sometimes you hear about people being out and getting niggle after niggle.
‘Thankfully, it’s been nothing serious with me but it’s all seemed to come at the same time.
‘There has been no repeat of that problem since.
‘This time it’s been a little bit of bad fortune.
‘But I’m fully recovered now and I have to work hard and stay fit. It’s been niggle after niggle but I’m over it now.’
Pompey have lost their last two games going into tomorrow’s trip to AFC Wimbledon.
But they still carry a five-match unbeaten league run into the game.
Craddock said: ‘We got beat at Stevenge but the performance in the second-half was excellent and we deserved to win that game.
‘We can’t say that was the case against Newport.
‘We are still carrying an unbeaten run in the league, so we have to make sure we are bang at it for Wimbledon.’
– JORDAN CROSS