Scunthorpe United: Impressing Laws is priority for David Mirfin as comeback continues
CREDITED with helping to improve Scunthorpe United's fortunes last January, defender David Mirfin can see the parallels with his situation 12 months later.
The centre-back arrived at Glanford Park on loan from Watford in 2012 to find the Iron struggling at the wrong end of the table.
A year later and as Mirfin returns from injury, United are in a similar position.
This time though, he argues, games may not be so easy to come by.
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His first match under manager Brian Laws ended with the Yorkshireman hobbling off with a knee injury.
Since then he has had little chance to impress, spending two months on the sidelines watching Paul Reid and Niall Canavan in action at the heart of the defence.
Although results haven't always gone their way, the duo helped secure a rare clean-sheet against Shrewsbury Town, following that up with a crucial win at Colchester United last weekend.
Mirfin came off the substitutes' bench for the final few minutes in the latter, but he is taking nothing for granted.
"It's probably a good thing for the team because they know they've got to play well now I'm back and wanting to get back in," he said.
"It's been the same for all three of us throughout this season.
"I know I've got to be patient. I've got to bide my time for my chance and take it.
"I don't think there's ever a good watcher! Whenever I've been injured I've always said the worst thing is watching. It's very frustrating.
"All you can do is encourage the lads, that's as much as you can do.
"Between me, Niall and Reidy one of us has been out for a few weeks throughout the season.
"It is the case that the two lads who are playing come to the one watching and you say, 'what do you think we could have done' or 'how do you think we did?'.
"All three of us have agreed that throughout the season we haven't actually played that badly.
"Against Shrewsbury the two lads played really well and the clean-sheet showed that.
"Unfortunately, when you're losing games it's sometimes the defence that gets highlighted more.
"I think we've always come through games playing well, we've just not got the results."
And though many assume Canavan will be the one most likely to give way once Mirfin is fully fit, the 27-year-old says his younger team-mate is fully deserving of his place.
"I think Niall's always been waiting for this run of games, especially while I've been here it's been very stop-start for him," added Mirfin.
"But when he has been playing he's never let anyone down, he's never played badly.
"Now I don't think he's seen as the young lad that makes way for the older players. He's one of the three fighting for the two positions."
If he is to dislodge Canavan, Mirfin knows he must catch the eye of a manager also in his third stint at Scunthorpe.
Laws has yet to see the best of the former Huddersfield man, his injury coming at the end of a 4-0 FA Cup defeat at Gillingham.
It hasn't taken Mirfin long though, to see the best of Laws.
"It was the gaffer and Russ's first game and a disappointing result as well," said the former Huddersfield man. "It probably magnified it a little bit more.
"I didn't play for him (Laws) when he was here in his previous spell and you don't know how much he's watched or knows about you.
"I'm kind of starting a new leaf and I've got to show him and Russ what I can do.
"Training's been really good. There are a few similarities to what it was like when Nigel Adkins was in charge – at the time we were flying and really doing well and everyone enjoyed training.
"I think the gaffer knows he's getting back to the lads enjoying training but also working hard and working for each other.
"It's probably similar to when I came in last year on loan. There are a lot of similarities to last season.
"It's not a team that's playing badly, which on the flip side can make where we are more frustrating.
"But you can only concentrate on yourself and we've got to make sure we get the results we deserve."
Mirfin is delighted he can at least start to play some part in that.
Although he has been out of action since early November, it could have been much worse.
"I did a lot of little things," the 27-year-old explained.
"If I'd done one thing really badly I think it would have been a lot longer.
"I put all my weight on my left foot and looking back at where I put my foot, it sunk two or three inches in the ground and my knee went back underneath itself and popped out.
"As soon as I did it I thought I'd done something bad.
"I had bone bruising and did damage quite a few ligaments but not very badly.
"When we got the scan results it was a bit of 50-50 – relief that I'd not done something more serious but then disappointment that I'd be out for eight to 10 weeks.
"In hindsight, it was probably good news from the scan.
"Now I'm back and looking forward to playing again."