TORQUAY UNITED defender Brian Saah says that the chance to play in next week's Devon derby against Exeter City is the surprise bonus of his stretched-out suspension.
Centre-back Saah is finally available again after a three-match ban that stems all the way back to his dismissal at Bradford City on December 8 – FIVE weeks ago.
A series of postponements before and after Christmas has forced Saah, 26, to remain on the sidelines, but he hopes to make his return away to Burton Albion this Saturday and then face the Grecians at Plainmoor on Tuesday (8pm).
"After I was sent off, I was looking at maybe two-and-a-half weeks out, especially with all the games we had coming up then," said former Leyton Orient and Cambridge United defender Saah.
"At the time the Exeter game was one of the matches I thought I was going to miss.
"You always want to play in derbies, and I had to miss the Plymouth game (at Home Park) on Boxing Day.
"But it's a massive positive for me that, now I'm back at last, I'll be able to play against Exeter.
"It's been very frustrating, and I just want to get back involved with the team again.
"Over the last five weeks I've been able to work on my fitness, away from having to prepare for games, and spend a bit more time with my family over Christmas.
"I've tried to treat that as a positive, because you can't let everything else get you down too much."
Saah praised the way that young on-loan Reading defender Angus MacDonald has deputised for him over the last three matches.
"In the games that I watched, I tried to help Gus, wish him luck and gee him up at half-time, because it's a team game and a squad game and we're all in it together," he said.
"Although he's on loan, Gus is like one of us, because he was here last season.
"He's done really well, but that hasn't surprised me, because the gaffer wouldn't have brought him in if he couldn't do the job."
Manager Martin Ling this week extended MacDonald's loan from the Royals to the end of the season.
But, with MacDonald's current contract at Reading up in the summer, he stressed that it could lead to a permanent deal next season.
"Gus has done well, but now he's got to prove that he deserves a longer contract next year," said Ling.
"He's on a four-month trial, if you like."
After Burton away and Exeter at home, United also entertain Chesterfield at Plainmoor on Saturday week.
"Nine points on offer make it a massive week for us," said Ling.