Republic of Ireland and former Cork City striker Sean Maguire was relieved to turn tears to cheers after his dramatic return to action with a brace in Preston’s 3-1 Championship win at Bolton.
It was Maguire’s first appearance since damaging his hamstring against Aston Villa last October and then being forced to have an operation.
Preston were being held 1-1 by Bolton when Maguire was sent on in the 65th minute and he responded with a double to take his tally from his last four appearances to four.
The goal celebrations were a far cry from when he was told the news about his injury. He said: “I played two games with it, and when I got the scan and (physio Matt Jackson) Jacko told me, I broke down in tears. It’s been tough, but everybody close to me has been great to me.
“I just can’t put into words how good that felt.
“When you’re playing you don’t really think about injuries, and I never thought I’d get an injury like that.
“You can’t write stuff like this. To even be back involved with 4,000 fans singing your name in a big game derby game that you have to win and to contribute to that and score two goals, it’s the best feeling I’ve had in football.
“The first day I got injured, I went to the physio and said this is the game I want to be back for, and that’s a lot of credit to him. I felt good and I felt sharp coming on. We’ve a lot of big games coming up now so we won’t get too excited yet.
“We’ll enjoy the win but get back into training to get sharper and fitter because it’s a big 11 games for the club and we want to get into those play-offs.
“I probably would have taken just coming on and getting a feel for a matchday again.
“But to come on and get a brace and win the game is massive for us and gives us real momentum.
Preston boss Alex Neil hailed the return of Maguire. “It was fantastic for Sean and people forget how many important players we have lost this season. After the three or four months Sean had been out, I don’t think he would have dreamed of a better game back. Sean had only played 45 minutes of football (in a friendly last week against Burnley) in four months, so to come on and deliver tells you everything you need to know about him. All that pain and frustration came out in his celebration of his first goal.”
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