BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent defender Pip Boyland plans to banish memories of his injury hell and make up for lost time this season.

The full-back, who is also assistant manager, feared his playing days were over after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the first week of the 2017/18 campaign.

It left him on the treatment table for a full two years but, after fighting his way back to fitness, Boyland now hopes to play a key role in Regent’s BetVictor Isthmian League campaign.

"I only managed my first 90 minutes in our pre-season friendly against Lowestoft,” said the former Stanway Rovers man, who works alongside R’s boss Tom Rothery.

"It was a massive milestone as I didn't think I'd ever be able to do that again.

"I knew it was the kind of injury some players don't come back from.

"It was a big operation and I didn't know if I'd ever play again.

"That prospect was daunting, because football's such a massive part of my life.

"It was crippling knowing I might be finished.

"But I knew that if I could keep myself fit, I'd have a chance.”

Boyland admits the road back to fitness has been a long and arduous one.

He says there have been dark days and it is not an injury he would wish on his worst enemy.

"There have been some horrendous moments within those two years,” he added.

"There's no denying it's been a long road and a lot of discipline is required.

"You have to keep working and training, you have to stick to your diet and you have to keep to the rehabilitation schedule.

"It's hard because your rehab doesn't always let you do those things.

"I don't ever want to go through anything like that again but it's just a case of staying positive now, looking forward and getting on with it.

"I respect and have sympathy for anyone who's recovered from that operation.

"Sometimes it feels like you've taken two steps forward and then one back.

"It's the type of operation where you never know what the future holds.

"That's still the case now, to be honest, and you never know how strong your knee is after the injury.

"That's a mental thing, though, because in theory it's stronger than ever.

"I've spent so much time working on my legs and strengthening them up to protect the ligaments.

"Staying fit from here on in is going to be an important part of my longevity.

"Fingers crossed, I'll have another couple of years.

"I'd really like that because it's a great club here at Brightlingsea.

"We have some very good players and exciting prospects.”

After drawing 0-0 at home to Harlow Town in their final friendly, Regent launch their premier division campaign at Margate on Saturday.

Their opening home fixture is next Tuesday night, against Bowers and Pitsea.

Boyland hopes to play a big part in both and then throughout the campaign.

"I'd like to be a part of it before having to hang up my boots,” he said.

"But I want that to happen on my terms, rather than having it forced on me by injury.

"I've got a good feeling about this year.

"We've got depth and a stronger squad.

"Tom's worked hard to recruit new boys and those that have come in have shown they're good enough for the level.

"Fingers crossed we'll have a real go and I can be a part of it as a player, as well as in my coaching role.”

With regards to the latter, Boyland added: "Communication and leadership is a big part of my game. I love it.

"Having a commanding, disciplined approach has been embedded in me after so many years spent watching my dad (Phil played for Braintree Town, Bury Town and Sudbury Town during his career, appearing for the latter in the FA Vase final at Wembley Stadium in 1989).

"It's definitely had an influence on my career and I just hope I can pass it on to younger players.

"I want the best from everyone around me.

"I want players to give everyone and have high standards.

“It's very important to have that mentality."