Ex-Hearts and Hibs striker James Keatings is back enjoying his football again with Tranent

James Keatings hopes his first goal for Tranent will be the first of many after revealing his pleasant surprise at the setup boasted by the Lowland League outfit.
James Keatings is back enjoying his football again after injury hellJames Keatings is back enjoying his football again after injury hell
James Keatings is back enjoying his football again after injury hell

The 31-year-old ex Hearts and Hibs striker opened his account for the Foresters Park club on his first start as Tranent beat East of Scotland Premier leaders Linlithgow Rose 3-1 in the fourth round of the South Challenge Cup.

Keatings had made two appearances off the bench for the Belters prior to Saturday's start after signing on a short-term deal until the end of the season, but he hasn't ruled out a longer stay. Having spent much of the last 12 months on the sidelines, the forward is just happy to be back playing.

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"It's been brilliant since I have went in, they have a great set up which I was really surprised to see," said Keatings. "The stage I am at with the injuries I have had, it was all about getting back playing again. Before I signed for Forfar I even considered playing Sunday league with my mates, just to enjoy it.

"I knew Kevin Thomson went to Tranent after Hibs. With training at Hibs, I used to travel through Tranent. I didn't know their setup or any of the boys in the team, but when I went in a few weeks ago, it surprised me. They are a very well run club and they want to go a lot higher, the way they are setting things up in the background they don't want to stand still, which is good for any player. I want to help as much as possible and help them go forward.

"I am hoping to get up to speed as soon as possible, I am still a little bit behind fitness wise. I played 70 minutes on Saturday, but I was toiling a wee bit. The first half was tough going, the wind was killing the game and they had the wind, their full back was pushing on so I spent most of my time at left back! The second half we took over, there was only one team in it. It was positive to get my first start and to get a goal, hopefully now I can stay clear of injuries and get my fitness up."

Keatings only signed for former club Forfar in the summer but suffered a medial ligament injury twice. Residing in Wishaw, the travel was getting too much for Keatings who has his own plastering company.

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He added: "I had been out injured most of the season with Forfar after doing my MCL, and then I came back and did two training sessions, but did it again and made it a lot worse than it was the first time, so it was a bit of a disaster.

“Being injured is probably the worst thing, and it has crossed my mind a couple of times to just leave it because of the injuries. When I did the MCL a second time I thought to myself 'I'm not coming back from this'. I saw a specialist and if it wasn't for the specialist I probably wouldn't have came back to playing, because in my head it wasn't healing properly, but I followed his programme and it feels strong now, it feels good.”