Livingston captain Simon Mensing feared he would be left to rally his team-mates from the sidelines this season after a serious knee injury threatened to rule him out this term.
The 32-year-old was given the earth-shattering news that a 12-month rehabilitation programme was the likely prognosis for the damage sustained to his cruciate ligament during a training session in April.
However, fast forward six months and Mensing is in line to make a shock return to the Livi defence tomorrow against League Two outfit Annan Athletic in the third round of the Scottish Cup.
The Englishman has taken his place on the substitutes’ bench for John McGlynn’s side’s previous two meetings with Falkirk and Queen of the South but now feels he is ready to cement his place at the heart of the Livi defence once again.
“From what the initial scan said, it was a complete rupture and that it would need an operation and that would have been around 12 months,” Mensing explained. “But I spoke to all the specialists as you do and got their thoughts and it turned out it wasn’t as bad as was first feared. There was still an attachment there which meant I could rehab it so it feels good. I’ve played two full 90s in the under-20s so I feel fine within myself and I don’t feel any pain in the knee whatsoever.
“Before this, if somebody was to ask me what my worst injury had been then I think I would have said I’d been out for three weeks, so it certainly has been a shock to the system. But to be honest, because it happened towards the end of last season, it doesn’t feel like I’ve missed too much football.
“I’m raring to go. I’ve been in training for a month now so I feel good. I feel I can certainly contribute to the team and to the performance we put in. Hopefully that chance will come tomorrow.”
Mensing feels his team-mates have performed admirably in his absence but feels the club can do better with the players the manager has at his disposal. The trip to Galabank tomorrow to try and shackle a side that occupies mid-table in League Two is a proposition Mensing isn’t underestimating by any means.
He said: “We got off to a really good start progressing in the cups, getting to the Petrofac final, and putting in some really good performances. But the last month or so we are aware we’ve gone off the boil. Against Queen of the South last weekend we were the better team; they scored against the run of play, but we didn’t give up and dug in. That followed up a good point we managed at Falkirk so we have to take confidence from that.
“All the pressure is on us tomorrow and we know that. Annan are a lower league side so they’re going to be up for it and will fancy their chances – especially at home. We’ve got to look after ourselves though and make sure we perform to capabilities and if we do that then we should progress.”
Mensing made more than 150 appearances for Premiership newcomers and league leaders Hamilton Accies during a four-year spell in South Lanarkshire before leaving for Raith Rovers in 2012.
He was therefore very forthcoming in his compliments to his former employers who continue to take the top flight by surprise.
He said: “I’m not surprised but I’m really pleased how they’re doing. I think since Alex Neil has taken over they’ve done especially well.
“They’re certainly reaping the benefits as they have a model there that’s got to be followed regarding giving youth a chance and a lot of other clubs could benefit from having something similar.”
• Livingston’s league clash with Rangers at the Energy Assets Arena on January 31 has been postponed due to the Ibrox club’s involvement in the League Cup semi-finals that weekend.
A new date has yet to be confirmed.