Midfielder looking forward to returning to actionExeter City midfielder David Noble is looking forward to a belated return to action when Northampton Town visit St James Park on Saturday.
The 32-year-old had had to watch on from the sidelines after his 93-day loan from Oldham Athletic expired the day after the Grecians beat Carlisle United at the Park in mid-December. It has meant for a frustrating month for the midfielder – a clean bill of health, but unavailable to play.
Noble spent last week training in preparation for last weekend’s game against Accrington – only to find out the day before that the terms of the transfer window would not enable him to be registered in time to play against Stanley.
So after four games away from action, Noble is eager to get back to action at the Park this Saturday after finalising his permanent signing for the Grecians earlier this week.
“It hasn’t been easy,” he explained. “The three-month loan ended on the 14th of December, so up until now has seemed like a hell of a long time. I’m just raring to go on Saturday now.
“Whenever I watch games I always think, ‘I wish I was out there’ – these last few games have been no different. So I’m happy that I’m available on Saturday and hopefully I can get back playing where I left off.
“I thought I was going to be available [against Accrington] – the plan was that I would be missing three games and then when January came round I’d be back available.
“It wasn’t until last Friday morning that we found out that I couldn’t play – and that was like rubbing salt in the wounds. That was the hardest one to take, but it’s out the way now – so onwards and upwards.
“Although I haven’t been playing in the games, I’ve still been training with the rest of the boys over the Christmas period. I’m still fit and ready to play.”
Visitors Northampton have developed a reputation for being a tough and direct team over the past few years.
Midfielder Noble feels that that isn’t anything that the Grecians won’t expect, and is confident that they will be able to handle that and earn the win.
David continued: “A lot of teams in League 2 are physical and direct – it’s going to be nothing that we haven’t come up against before.
“That is a major thing – you have to do [the physical side] too, and we do seem to be getting a bit better at that.”
In Noble’s absence, the Grecians picked up a single win at home against Cheltenham, but lost away in Stevenage and Wimbledon as well as at home to Accrington.
But with City still within a point of the play-off places – and the teams around Exeter also dropping points over the festive period – Noble doesn’t feel that any critical damage has been done.
“I don’t think anyone has taken advantage of us slipping up too much,” he continued. “Everyone is still within touching distance.
“We would have paid good money to be where we are after where we were at the end of August and start of September, so we’re happy enough.”