POLLOK captain Paul Lovering has opened up over the reactive arthritis diagnosis that has kept him out of action for 10 weeks.
The last time Lovering led his team-mates out was for a 2-0 win over Neilston in the New Coin Holdings Cup in early October, and being the fierce competitor he is, Paul describes the intervening period as seven matches long – six competitive and one friendly.
When asked about the condition that sprung up immediately after that cup win, Paul's response is to play down his woes, with the player remaining proud as punch that his side have remained unbeaten since he was sidelined.
He said: "It is best to cut a long story short and say that following that Neilston game I began feeling unwell and totally listless, making me think I had caught a flu bug.
"Then my knee swelled up uncontrollably to the extent that doctors thought it best if I underwent clean-up surgery to ensure there was no debris floating about the joint.
"By now my symptoms were getting worse and after being admitted to hospital for the second time a rheumatologist made the assessment that I was possibly suffering from reactive arthritis.
"Subsequent blood tests confirmed this diagnosis and specialists have since said it is very common in males aged 32-45 and that its onset could have been triggered by almost anything – even the impact of a tackle."
Airdrie United defensive legend Paul is now out of hospital and a number of weeks down the recovery trail but admits he doesn't see himself playing for Pollok again anytime soon.
The 37-year-old added: "Right now I'm focused on building up my strength again and some days I can feel really drained after working out so I believe it will take some time before I'm near fighting fit.
"What has been good for me though is getting back around the dressing room and mixing with the guys again – even though I'm taking a bit of a ribbing from Brian McGinty and the rest of them because of losing so much weight during this illness.
"The players deserve all the credit going for stringing together a decent run of results that keeps Pollok involved in all the major competitions so I'm keen as mustard to get back playing and help them try to land a few trophies.
"I've now started to come along on a Saturday and watch our games though I've mixed feelings about the recent cold snap causing our matches to be postponed and leaving some of the guys pulling out their hair in frustration.
"Purely from a selfish aspect, I'm glad not to be missing any more of our games but I am also going out of my head sitting around the house with nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon.
"A lot of people were possibly thinking this illness would finish me as a player but I'd like to think that Junior football hasn't seen the last of me yet.
"The Pollok supporters have been very encouraging and without wanting to sound too Arnie, my Christmas message to them is 'I'll be back'."