THERE were times two years ago when Phil Turnbull doubted himself.
Now, having been keen to return to action as early as “10 days” after the end of last season, the Gateshead midfielder is champing at the bit of the new campaign.
And emboldened by his and his side’s performances last term – and especially during February, when the Tynesiders won seven out of seven games – Turnbull has his sights set on promotion when the forthcoming season gets underway.
“I think we’ll go into the season knowing, especially after what we achieved during February, that we can realistically and seriously kick on and go for promotion,” Turnbull said.
“It’s about our own self-confidence more than anything. We did really well in February and got some good results.
“We’d have liked to have kicked on up the league, the lads in the changing rooms were talking about the play-offs.
“We then hit a bit of bad form and I suppose the glory and disappointment of the FA Trophy took a bit of a toll on the lads. That maybe killed our league form a bit.
“But this year I’ll definitely be looking for the play-offs. We’ll go into games and straight away if we don’t win our first game, we’ll wonder why.
“We need to be pushing for promotion next year.
“When you come up against teams like Rushden, for me we’re easily as good as them. I’d take on anybody any day of the week.”
Before then, Gateshead face Carlisle United in a pre-season friendly at the International Stadium this afternoon (2pm kick off), having lost their opening two preparatory games against Huddersfield Town and Harrogate Town.
Further friendlies against Kendal Town, Workington, Whitley Bay, Guiseley and Newcastle United and Sunderland XIs complete a gruelling programme for the Tynesiders.
But Turnbull would have it no other way.
“The pitches were killing me at the end of last season, especially at the International Stadium,” he said, before exonerating the much put-upon ground-staff.
“I think the lads were ready for a rest but I’m the sort of person who after 10 days of the summer I want to be back in. I’ve been missing the lads!
“You look forward to the end but at the same time football’s my life so I miss it.”