Julio Arca won his race for fitness and then the midfield battle too as he produced a masterclass against York City on Saturday.
South Shields’ captain had been a real doubt for the FA Cup tie with a leg injury suffered in the previous round at Darlington a fortnight earlier.
I got a bad kick against Darlington and my leg was quite swollen, which is why I wasn’t involved much the week beforeJulio Arca
Arca went on to score and put in a superb performance at Mariners Park, and afterwards told of just how close he had been to missing out.
He said: “I got a bad kick against Darlington and my leg was quite swollen, which is why I wasn’t involved much the week before.
“In the week of the game, I trained light, looking after the leg.
“It wasn’t the training sessions I wanted. Normally I try to train as hard as I can to get my fitness back.
“I felt a little bit tired at the end, but that’s normal when you haven’t done much for a couple of weeks.”
Arca – who reached the semi-final of the FA Cup with Sunderland in 2004 – was thrilled with Shields’ achievement.
He added: “It was a fantastic game for everyone.
“It’s the first time the club has gone so far in the competition.
“We are achieving good things for the club, and whatever happens in the next round, happens.
“We’ll see who we get, but another home draw would be fantastic for us.
“We know what we’re capable of doing and I’m sure the lads will be prepared in the right way for that game, like we do for every game.
“We’re looking forward to seeing who we get today, and then we’ll carry on.”