ANDY GRAHAM says he's chomping at the bit to get back to playing regularly for Alloa.

Graham, who hasn't started a match since December 21, 2019 and has played only minutes this season, is finally back and ready to go after being diagnosed and treated for discitis.

Now back training regularly, the 37-year-old is desperate to return to regular action but he knows it won't be easy.

Graham told Advertiser Sport: "I feel I'm getting fitter and stronger every time [he trains]; it's been a long road to get to this point that's for sure, but I feel like I've had a good few sessions now.

"It's match fitness that I need and the only way I'm going to get it is by playing games.

"There's no reserve league running at the moment and there's no way I can go and get a game with a reserve team.

"That's not helping matters because that's naturally what you would look to do to build up your game time and then progress with that into the first team.

"I need to be patient, I know we've not had great results but the boys have been doing okay.

"I just need to wait and I'm sure the manager doesn't want to throw me in if he doesn't think I'm ready, so it's just a case of me working as hard as I can in training and wait on the gaffer giving me the shout to come back into the team and take it from there."

While Graham has been keeping fit and back training with the squad, he's not worried about a lack of game time as he's got the experience to get him through.

"I think the more experienced you get the more you can control how much you have to run and use other attributes," he said. "The position I play's a bit different in the sense that match fitness for a midfielder is completely different to a centre-half – they've got a lot more running they need to do.

"I've played that many games of football now that I'm pretty confident once you get out and the adrenaline kicks in, you'll be absolutely fine.

"I'm chomping at the bit to get back out there, but, as I say, the boys have done well, I know the results in the league haven't been great but they done well in the Betfred Cup.

"It's a tough league and it's not a case of just walking back into the team because there's a good squad of players and I just need to be ready when I'm called upon."

When football was put on hold back on March, it meant that a lot of players were suddenly being trusted to look after themselves and their own fitness and adjust to life without football.

For Graham, it meant missing less football, which was a blessing for him and his mental health.

He said: "For me to be out the length of time I was and to miss as little games I have, mentally that was a lot better for me. If anything, the toughest part of it was the last few months when I've been close to getting back and not able to get over that last wee hurdle.

"Before, when nobody was playing football, it was just a case of concentrating on my health because at that point they were still saying they didn't think I'd be able to play football again.

"It's made it, mentally, a lot easier for me knowing I'm not missing too much football. Now that I'm closer it's more frustrating because I just want to play.

"The older you get, the more you think you don't know how much longer you've got playing so you want to make the most of it and play as much as you possibly can. That's the stage I'm at at the moment and I just need to be patient and work as hard as I possibly can."

Graham insists the club couldn't have been better for him and wants to get on the pitch to repay them as soon as possible.

He continued: "The club have been outstanding with me, they sent me down to Leeds to see a spinal specialist who was outstanding with me.

"They paid for a lot of injections for me to strengthen the ligaments and make me able to get out training.

"I've got to thank the chairman for all the support he gave me because it would have been so easy for them to say 'well he's 37 now, let's just cut our losses'. And I'm sure many clubs in Scottish football would have done that so it's testament to Alloa and the board.

"The chairman even said if you don't get back at least you'll be in a better state of living. All that support just made me think I want to get back playing for all these people that have supported me so that was the main driver for me."

It's been almost two weeks since Alloa's last league match. They host Dundee this Friday night, and Graham insists they'll be looking for the three points.

"We're in the league because we want to play Dundee, we want to play Dunfermline, we want to play Hearts; that's why you work so hard to get in this league," he said.

"The mentality's got to be that, you want to showcase your talents, the younger guys will want to go and do well so they can get full-time football.

"The manager never sets us up to do anything else other than go and win games of football and it'll be the same on Friday night.

"It's something he's instilled every time no matter who we play, we're going out to win the game and as a player that's what you want to hear.

"There's no doubt on Friday night we'll be going out to give it a right good go and take them on."