DONCASTER ROVERS defender Andy Butler admits he is savouring his own seasonal renaissance after being nominated for the League One player-of-the-month award for January.
Butler is one of four nominees for the award, announced today, with the Doncaster-born centre-half enjoying a new lease of life at his hometown club after a tough start to the campaign at Sheffield United, where he quickly fell out of favour after arriving in the summer.
Butler said: “I didn’t have the best of starts to the season. But I got on with it and kept myself fit.
“I have enjoyed every second I have been here and there has not been a moment when I have been down.”
Butler faces former club Walsall tomorrow, having proved a big crowd favourite with Saddlers fans, while also spending a brief loan spell there in the autumn.
But he says sentiment will not come into the equation with tomorrow all about business.
He added: “I was there for three and a half years and I think what put me there as a hero was a winning goal against Wolves.
“I had some good times there and have spoken to a few of the lads and the old cliche is you put your friendships aside for 90 minutes.
“I am good friends with the goalkeeper (Richard O’Donnell) and either way, someone is going to get a missed call.”
Meanwhile, Barnsley striker Sam Winnall says he has come back a ‘hungrier’ player following his return to the fold following a hamstring injury.
The Reds’ top scorer has made cameo displays from the bench in the home wins over Port Vale and Swindon, having been out of action since late November, and is seeking to make up for lost time.
He said: “The injury came at a bit of a frustrating time. I felt as if I was playing the best football of my career.
“I felt so confident going into every game and felt I was going to cause problems.
“It made things worse that we had a few games where we didn’t really play to our potential and I was on the sidelines itching to get out there and help the team.
“When you are watching on the sidelines, it makes you realise how great it is to be a footballer.
“You just want to get back out there doing what you love and when you miss it, you want it even more.
“I am coming back hungrier.”