Gateshead loanee Andre Bennett maintains he couldn’t have asked for a better place to take in the first loan spell of his fledgling career.
The 21-year-old joined the Heed from Middlesbrough in January, and made 15 appearances during his three month-stay.
Bennett has seen his season cut short by a dislocated shoulder, for which he is set to undergo surgery next week.
He made his last appearance against Torquay United at the International Stadium a fortnight ago, having only just made his return from a hernia injury.
Bennett admits he has had a frustrating time of late, and spoke of his surprise at how the Tynesiders’ play-off push has unravelled in recent weeks.
However, the youngster remains upbeat when he reflects on his time at the International Stadium, thanking boss Neil Aspin for giving him his first taste of the senior game.
He said: “Before the hernia came on [in March], we were in a good place – we were pushing for the play-offs.
“I had a couple of weeks out, I came back, but I haven’t got a look in. I haven’t been able to get going again.
“I was playing every week, but the injury really knocked me back.
“It’s both frustrating and disappointing, but that’s football for you, I suppose.
“Obviously, it was my first ever loan spell. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I’ve met some great people.
“I’d like to thank the manager for taking a chance and letting me prove my point.
“I didn’t know what to expect at first, but the standard in training was brilliant. I was very surprised.
“I couldn’t have asked for a nicer set of lads for my first loan spell. They helped me settle in quickly, and I’ve made some very good friends for life.”