When Tranmere kick off their National League season at Torquay this afternoon, there is one man who has unfinished business.
Jay Harris was an integral part of Micky Mellon’s team last year as they pushed towards the top of the table.
But his season was cut short in heart-breaking fashion, with a knee injury ruling him out of the final month of the campaign – including the play-offs.
His absence was notable. One of eight players who could not take to the field at Wembley, Harris watched on from the sidelines as Rovers lost 3-1 to Forest Green.
He returned sooner than expected this summer though, and is desperate to help Tranmere go one better this time around.
“I can’t wait for the new season,” he said.
“Especially off the back of my injury and missing a few games. It seems like forever since I played a competitive game.
“I’m back more or less perfect now. I’ve had a few niggles over pre-season, but that’s expected because I’ve come back earlier than expected as well.
“I’m fine. I’ve trained every single day and hopefully I’m ready to go.
“It was just a bit of bad luck, more than anything.
“We were winning and I was doing well. I managed a hat-trick against North Ferriby and scored Chester when I came on, so I was doing well.
“It was unfortunate that I picked up the injury at that time, it was an important stage of the season. But that’s football.”
Unsurprisingly, Rovers are favourites to go up this season after their near miss at Wembley.
The 3-1 defeat to Forest Green in the play-off final was only the eighth time Micky Mellon had been beaten as Tranmere manager.
They have strengthened over the summer, with James Alabi and Ollie Norburn arguably the most exciting signings from Chester and Macclesfield.
The manager admits he’s “determined to go one better” this season, adding his side have “no excuses” for not starting the campaign strongly.
Harris refused to target simply the National League title, but admits staying in the division for a fourth year is not an option.
“You can’t say all or nothing, but if you have to go through the play-offs, so be it,” he continued.
“As long as we get promoted, I think that’s the main aim.
“We were confident we could win it last year, and obviously we had a few bumps and mishaps.
“We’ve got to go and aim for that number one spot.
“Last year we had a great core to the squad.
“We added some players and come pre-season, we’ve lost a few, but we’ve also added the quality as well. Hopefully we can continue where we left off.
“Ollie Norburn’s a great player. We played against him last year and I’ve seen him in training, he’s got real quality.”
Meanwhile Harris has no worries about Tranmere heading into the season under-cooked.
Rovers have managed just three friendlies after their match against Bury a week ago was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
The midfielder may not have played as much as he would have liked, especially after the injury, but insists he is ready and raring to go.
“It’s been tough, this pre-season,” he added.
“We’ve done a lot of running, but it’s all been game related.
“We’ve not done anything silly. There’s been a lot of ball work early days. Hopefully we’ll hit the ground running fitness wise and football.”