Connor Jennings hoping first start leads to more Scunthorpe United goals
After a frustrating few months, Connor Jennings' smile is back.
It has not been an easy start to the campaign for the Scunthorpe United striker, who found himself having to work hard on his fitness in pre-season.
A broken metatarsal set him back last year, shortly after arriving at Glanford Park, and it has taken time for Jennings to get back up to speed.
But then, patience has been key for the former Stalybridge Celtic front man.
He finally got his first start of the term against Notts County in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
And having been more used to a place in the starting XI than on the bench at his previous club, he hopes Tuesday night's will be the first of many.
"It's always frustrating when you're on the bench," said Jennings. "I never really used to be on the bench before.
"It just means you've got to make an impact when you come on to try to get that start you want.
"It's difficult when you do come on. It's a lot more tiring than people think.
"It might only be 10 minutes but it does take a while to get your lungs going!
"That was my first start since January, so I'm happy about that. I had to wait a while but it was worth it, it was just a shame about the result (a 2-1 defeat).
"It's a start and hopefully it will be the first of many.
"I got a bit tired towards the end because I haven't had lots of 90 minutes, but I felt fine.
"Fitness has been key for me since coming back from injury and in pre-season, working on my sharpness – I think that's been important.
"I am starting to feel a lot sharper now and better for working hard."
Jennings already had a first goal to his name, from the 5-5 Capital One Cup clash at Derby County last month.
He admits it came as a weight off his mind – particularly as he has a little competition going with his brother, James Jennings, who plays for Cambridge United.
"That was another happy moment, to finally get that goal," he said.
"Hopefully I can keep getting in those positions and more will come.
"When you haven't scored in a while nothing seems to drop for you or you're never in the right position, whereas if you are scoring and in good form, everything seems to go your way.
"I'm glad I've got that out the way so I can move on and think about other things, like getting starts, not just goals.
"It's quite a weight on your mind when you're a striker – especially when my brother's scoring more goals than me – and he's a defender! That's never good."
Jennings hopes continuing to play alongside Mike Grella will help him eventually get the edge over his sibling.
"Technically he's brilliant and he always works hard as well, just like all the lads" he said. "I'm starting to get a smile back on my face this season and am enjoying it a lot more."