Former Burton Albion midfielder Jimmy Phillips believes that he is firmly in ‘the right place’ after completing his move to Vanarama National League club Gateshead.
The 25-year-old put pen-to-paper on a one-year deal at the International Stadium, having been released by the Brewers at the end of the last campaign.
On the books at Stoke City as a youngster, Phillips spent six years at the Pirelli Stadium – the Sky Bet League Two outfit’s longest-serving player at the time of his departure.
A cruciate ligament injury saw the diminutive midfielder sit out much of his final season at the club, which he ended with a brief loan spell at Alfreton Town.
But Phillips insists that his fitness concerns can now be consigned to the past, and he is relishing the chance to play a key role for Malcolm Crosby’s new-look Heed.
He said: “It’s a new challenge for me, and it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.
“Last season was difficult for me personally, but I came to meet the manager last week, and I was impressed by his ideas moving forward.
“I’d say everything about the place impressed me, and it’s a good opportunity for me now.
“There was interest elsewhere, but this feels like the right place for me.
“It was a no-brainer, really – the area, the training ground, and the philosophies of the manager and his assistant.
“I would like to think I’m a midfielder who looks to get on the ball and make things happen. I look to get defenders on the back foot and make it difficult for them.
“The injury feels like it was a long time ago now. I feel stronger for the experience, and I’m in good shape again.
“Mentally, it was obviously testing at the time, but I put in a lot of work to get back to fitness, and I shouldn’t be having any problems going forward.”
Boss Crosby was delighted to seal Phillips’ signature, as his squad begins to take shape ahead of Friday’s landmark pre-season friendly fixture with Newcastle United.
He said: “He’s got a great appetite for the game, and can play in the middle of the park, as well as out on the wing.
“What I did like in particular was that he wanted to come here – he lives in Stoke, but he was prepared to make the move to play for Gateshead.
“To me, it’s important to have players who want to be there, first and foremost – and there’s no doubt that Jimmy is one of those.
“He has recovered from his injury. I’m confident about that – it’s all just part and parcel of the game.”