Plymouth Argyle manager Carl Fletcher has revealed how midfielder Jamie Lowry came close to ruling himself out of the 2-2 draw with Gillingham at Home Park last Saturday.
Lowry put in a strong performance as the Pilgrims ended a sequence of four successive defeats in all competitions by taking a point off the npower League Two leaders. Yet, a day earlier, the 25-year-old had been on the brink of sitting out the fixture.
Lowry was worried that starting two matches in four days earlier in the week, after recovering from a long-term ankle ligament injury, had taken its toll on him.
In the end, though, Lowry did play against Gillingham and put in his best display for Argyle since signing as a free agent in the summer.
Fletcher said: "That's three games in a week for Jamie. We named the team on Friday and he was in it, but he was honest with me and said, 'I feel knackered'.
"We didn't do a lot in training on Friday, just kept it nice and light. I told him to sleep on it and see how he was on Saturday morning."
Lowry promised Fletcher he would be honest with him – and he told the Argyle manager on Saturday morning he felt fine to play.
Fletcher said: "Jamie gets the ball and keeps it. He reads the game really well and we are very lucky to have him here."
Lowry was released by Chesterfield at the end of last season but Argyle soon snapped him up on a one-year contract. However, the Newquay-born player suffered an ankle ligament injury in the Pilgrims' second pre-season friendly, a 1-0 win at Truro City on July 27.
That kept him out of action until he made his delayed debut for Argyle as a substitute in a 2-1 League Two defeat at Cheltenham Town on October 23.
Lowry has started each of the four fixtures since then, including the FA Cup first round tie at Dorchester Town on November 4, which the Pilgrims lost 1-0.
Fletcher thought the midfielder's performance against Gillingham showed he was nearing full match fitness. He said: "When you have been out for a long while, you get tired when you play a lot of games.
"You get the ball and try to keep it, and then try to get your breath back. But later in the game against Gillingham, the way he read situations and picked up second balls was really helpful to us as a team," the Argyle boss concluded.
Luke Young played alongside Lowry in midfield against the Gills, and he thought there were a lot of positives to come out of the hosts' display.
Young said: "Some people, the fans for example, might have taken a point from this game at the start, looking at our last results and who we were playing. But, as a group of players, we were going into the game to win it.
"I think we did enough to win it. The tempo was the key," the 19-year-old continued. "From start to finish, we were at them. All they threw at us, we dealt with well.
"They are flying high but we wanted to show them what we are capable of, and I think we did that. It was a great game for us to try to put things right, and we are capable of beating anybody on our day," added the former Argyle apprentice.