‘Being out for so long is mentally and physically horrible’ – Shaq is back and he wants to make up for lost time

Shaquille McDonald (Credit: Richard Bowcott/Lambs Media)

Determined Tamworth winger Shaquille McDonald wants to make up for lost time after marking his long-awaited return to action with a goal against Leiston at the weekend.

The 26-year-old previously hadn’t featured since picking up an ankle injury against Peterborough Sports on the opening day of the season.

Since then, he’s struggled to get back to full fitness and picked up a knee injury as he was nearing a comeback weeks ago.

McDonald admits it’s been tough to watch his teammates perform so well without him – but only because he’d rather be out there with them.

“I’m relieved because it’s been a long journey and I’m so happy to get back and get going again,” he said.

“Being out for so long is mentally and physically horrible. I sprained my foot in the first game of the season and the first training session back from that injury, I sprained my knee. I did the recovery for that one and got back but then my foot went again.

“Watching the team doing so well and watching all my friends scoring goals and not being there when you’re so close to being fit is really tough. 

“We missed football for so long anyway because of the pandemic so missing it when we’re allowed to play is so frustrating – my head has blown up. 


“There have been some things happening off the field in my private life, so it hasn’t been a good time. But getting back out on the pitch on Saturday and getting the chance to just run around and play football was the best feeling. 

“Just to get that goal gives that confidence straight away, if you have to wait for it, it can play on your mind a bit too much. 

“Hopefully going forward now it will come naturally now the first one is out of the way.” 

With a number of players in his position catching the eye so far this season, competition for places is red-hot.

McDonald says he isn’t expecting to be in contention for a start straight away but reckons his contribution to the collective effort can help make a difference.

“Everyone who’s been involved this season is pulling their weight so it makes you want to be a part of it even more,” he said.

“We’ve got very good players in this side and everyone brings something different. 

McDonald marked his return with a goal against Leiston (Credit: Richard Bowcott/Lambs Media)

“There’s no one better than Dexter Walters in a one-on-one situation, Tyrell Waite is a powerhouse and he can get up and down, Jack Concannon can get in that pocket and nick a goal and Dan Creaney holds the ball up well and gets others involved in the process – so everyone brings something different to the party. 

“I just want to score goals and as long as I keep myself fit, I will do that. We want to win the league so we need a good five or six players who can all add their own thing. We might all be different, but we all bring goals and the ability to create chances.

“The lads being in form helps me because I know I need to be at my best to get in the team but also, I like to think it motivates the other lads knowing I’m coming back fit and wanting to play. 

“The feeling in training is amazing and it’s just good to be back.”

It’s not just McDonald’s goalscoring record that gets the fans on his side either.

Anyone that has seen him score will usually be treated to an acrobatic celebration involving multiple backflips.

The winger admits he thought better than to do it when Tamworth were trailing on Saturday, but says it will only be a matter of time before the fans see it again.

“I couldn’t celebrate it as much as I would have wanted to because we were a goal down,” he said.

“As long as my body feels good enough to do something, I’m going to do it. [Dan] Creaney asked me before the game on Saturday if I would celebrate if I scored and I would have, but with us being behind when I scored it didn’t feel right. If I scored to make it 2-2, I definitely would have done it.

“If I can stay fit now, I will score a lot of goals and we can start to climb the table and hopefully win the league.”

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