Lincoln City defender Ben Coker admitted he feels “absolutely chuffed” after recovering from a torn crucial ligament injury to make his debut for the Imps.

The 30-year-old had not played first team football since suffering an injury during a match between his former club Southend United and opponents Sunderland in October 2018.

He was released at the end of last season by the Shrimpers and joined Lincoln City but he had to wait until last night to make his debut at Sincil Bank.

Coker played an hour for the Imps in their 3-0 win over Rotherham in the EFL Cup and he told Lincolnshire Live just how much it meant to him to be back out on the pitch.

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He said after the game: “I absolutely love it. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a long time coming, just over 12 months now.

“To get on that pitch, experience that again, I’m absolutely chuffed.

“I’ve been envisioning that since I got injured, what my comeback game would feel like. That’s what got me through some dark days.”

Although Coker had seemingly recovered from his initial injury upon joining Lincoln, his resolve was tested further when medics realised he had a groin injury which needed an operation.

He said: “I played a reserve game and two days later I popped my groin, so I had to have surgery on that.

“That was a massive setback because I was feeling great. It put me back about 12 weeks. I was devastated. To get so close to coming back and getting injured again was really tough to take at the time.

“But I just had to get back on the horse again. I’d done it before and I knew I could do it again.”

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Determined to rejoin the first team, Coker worked hard in the gym and on his rehabilitation to secure a welcome return to the starting XI.

He said: “I’ve loved my time at the club so far. I’ve settled like snow. All the boys have been great with me, as have the physios.

“I’m just so glad to be out on the pitch and being able to show people what I’m about.”