Harry Forrester is keen to make up for lost time after a double injury blow put his Doncaster Rovers career on hold.
The forward was one of the club’s marquee signings when he arrived from Brentford in the summer, but before the festive period, Rovers fans had been witness to just one start and one substitute appearance from the lively 22-year-old.
For that, Forrester takes part responsibility, after accepting that in his over-eagerness to make a mark he did not allow his first injury sufficient time to heal properly.
“That first injury was an impact one in training, it wasn’t a pull or anything like that, just a freak tackle I came out on the wrong end of,” said Forrester, who returned to the first-team at Derby last Saturday before making his first League start for the club in the Boxing Day defeat to Ipswich Town.
“When that healed, maybe I was a little too keen to get back playing, because my muscles weren’t ready and I pulled a quad.
“I wouldn’t say I rushed myself, I was just over-keen.
“It was partly myself just wanting to play because I felt I was in a position to.
“I was hungry to play and that probably cost me another eight weeks.”
Forrester chalks it up to a valuable lesson learned, one the former Aston Villa and Watford trainee will be keen not to repeat after being forced to watch Doncaster’s Championship journey from the sidelines.
“I was buzzing when I signed. I wanted to kick-off in the Championship and give it a real go but I’ve been on the back foot really the whole time,” said Forrester, who was playing for Brentford on the dramatic day of the League One season last May when Marcello Trotta smashed a penalty against the cross bar and Rovers ended up winning promotion.
“Hopefully the second half of the season I can repay the fans and the club for the faith and the patience they’ve shown in me.
“I’m still young, I’ve got to learn from that and in the future not be too over-eager to get back involved.
“I’m determined now to put my foot on the pedal, but also to make sure I take each game as it comes.
“Because I’m desperate to test myself at Championship level. The main thing for me when I signed for Doncaster was to see how I could cope at this level, so to not be able to play has been hugely frustrating.
“To see the big teams come to Doncaster and the stadiums they’ve been to, and me being sat in the stands, it’s been hard to take.
“I like to think I’ve got a few years still to play at the Keepmoat so hopefully I can help the team stay in the division over the second half of the season.”
How Rovers could now do with some of the flair Forrester has shown in the past, and what attracted the club to the player in the first place.
Doncaster are in the midsts of their worst run since winning promotion, with Paul Dickov’s men going in to today’s game on the back of four straight defeats.
In each of those game they have conceded three goals, with only one going in the ‘for’ column.
Millwall are looking similarly disjointed, with Steve Lomas sacked on Boxing Day night following the 4-0 defeat at Watford which left the Londoners fifth from bottom, a point and a place above Dickov’s men.
Forrester said: “It’s a huge game and we’ll be up for it.
“We’re not looking at the table We know whereabouts we are, we’re not out of the danger zone but there’s no point looking at the table for another two or three months.”
From what he has seen from the sidelines in recent weeks, and during his recent game time on the pitch, Forrester accepts Rovers have to be more clinical in the two key areas of the pitch.
“We need to be more ruthless in both boxes,” he said.
“When we get the chances we have to finish teams off, but it’s both boxes where we’re struggling. In the middle of the park we’re fine.”
Goalscoring is an obvious problem, with Rovers scoring more than one goal in a game on just five occasions – the abandoned game at Charlton when they scored three in 45 minutes not included.
Forrester has never been a prolific scorer, but it his ability to create goals, either from midfield, the wing or in behind a striker that is his strength.
“I like to try and create things, I’ve always been like that and I’ll always be like that,” he continued.
“I like to make things happen. Even at times when it’s not on, that’s part of my game.
“I want to please the fans, I want to get other people into shooting areas, I want to be that creative part of the team.
“Hopefully I can contribute with goals as well. If I’m not doing that I’ve got to look at myself.
“But right now it’s about me getting myself back into the team, trying to get minutes and then ensuring I warrant a place in the starting XI. Once I’m in the team I’ve got to show what I can do.”
Neil Harris and academy director Scott Fitzgerald are in temporary charge of Millwall for tomorrow’s game at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Lomas won just five of his 22 matches in charge of the Lions and defeat at Watford was the club’s third in a row.
Millwall chief executive Andy Ambler said: “The board feels that it is in the best interests of Millwall that we make the change at this time and the search for a successor to Steve begins immediately.”