TORQUAY United midfielder Ben Harding (pictured, left) says he would love to help the Gulls beat his old club Northampton Town at Plainmoor on Saturday, but he is finally nearing a return after what he describes as a 'horrific' three months of injury.
"I am gutted that I can't face them, but I'll be cheering our boys all the way and hopefully we'll get the right result," said Harding, 29, who joined United from the Cobblers last summer.
"I played at their place when we beat them (2-1) earlier in the season and that was great, and it would be amazing to do the same this weekend."
Former Wimbledon, MK Dons, Aldershot, Wycombe and Northampton player Harding was one of former manager Alan Knill's key signings last summer. But after 12 appearances he tore the plantar fascia tendon in his right foot against York City at Plainmoor on October 5.
West Ham striker Andy Carroll has been out since the summer with a similar injury.
"This has been my toughest ever injury – it's been horrific, really difficult to deal with," said Harding.
"It's not the sort of injury where you or anyone else can really see what's wrong.
"At first, you're told it could three or four weeks out. Then it's eight weeks, and then you realise that someone like Andy Carroll has been out for seven months.
"Mentally, I haven't known where I stand with it.
"But it's not so surprising when you realise that all your body weight is going through that one tendon in your foot every step you take."
As well as rest, Harding has had every treatment that United physio Damian Davey and the club's specialist support team can devise.
"When I started running three weeks ago, I kept breaking down, which was hard to take," he said.
"We reassessed the situation and decided that it was likely to be from scar tissue in the tendon.
"But I haven't had any pain for the last ten days and, at long last, I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
"After all this time I don't want to jinx myself by saying I'm going to be back by a definite date, but I am getting close."
Father-of-three Harding, who signed a two-year deal in the summer and now lives near Newton Abbot, added: "It was a big move for us, but I couldn't be happier with the way we've settled in as a family.
"But although we love living here, in my head nothing has been settled for me.
"I felt I was just starting to get into my stride when the injury came, and because I'm not playing, I can't set my authority on the pitch.
"I can't wait to get back, do the job I came here to do and help the club get up the table."