LATE bloomer Joe Hawkins has no regrets about ditching his Birmingham City season ticket as he pursues a comeback for Worcester City’s biggest match of the season.

Drafted in during the opening month of the campaign from Cradley Town, the 26-year-old centre-half has quickly established himself as a firm favourite despite a lack of senior Saturday experience.

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Weekends used to consist of trips to the Blues followed by a kickabout on a Sunday but a flying start to life as a semi-professional gave Hawkins a different outlook.

Things came to a shuddering halt when he tore his hamstring against Malvern Town at the end of October but despite further setbacks to his recovery, he still harbours hopes of nailing down a spot for Sunday’s FA Vase last-32 showdown with Coventry United (3pm).

“To come in four or five weeks into the season and hit the ground running was great,” he said.

“The gaffer showed faith in me straight away, putting me in for Heather away in the FA Cup and playing me every week with a great group of lads who have been very welcoming.

“I have not played Saturday football for long, probably about a year, so to make a positive start, produce some man-of-the-match performances and then get injured was frustrating.

“I extended far too much trying to block a shot in the Malvern game and tore my hamstring.

“At the time we thought it might just be a twinge or a pull and I tried to get involved in a warm-up at a game about four weeks later.

“It was too soon. The running was fine but as soon as I kicked a football I felt it go again and that probably set me back another two weeks.

“It was meant to be six-to-eight weeks once we realised but it has been 10, it has been frustrating but that’s football. These things happen and I have stuck at it in the gym and with the physio to come back fitter and stronger.

“At 26 I still have a long time to play, even this season, so the main message from the gaffer (Ashley Vincent) has been not to rush it.

“I have played since the age of seven but never got involved at an academy or a decent level, it was always Sunday league, parks football.

“I had a season ticket at the Blues. Looking back, if I had started earlier, who knows where I might have been? Nothing ridiculous but there is still plenty of football to come.

“There are players in this league who are 10 years older than me. My outlook is to take it as it comes, play every game I can and train and work hard to see where it takes me.”

Wednesday’s Smedley Crooke Memorial Charity Cup clash with Worcester Raiders was meant to be his dry run ahead of the big day but a late deluge saw the match postponed, something Hawkins admitted had been far from ideal.

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“There is always a bit of nervousness in the back of your mind coming back from injury after so long,” he said.

“I have been back in full training which is good but a wet night like Wednesday would have given it a real push to see where I am. It would have given me knowledge and clarity ahead of Sunday.

“I will be training with the lads on Saturday and that will give me an idea, I am chomping at the bit.

"With it being the fourth round of the Vase, the biggest game of the season so far, I want to be involved.”