Northampton Town: Alex Nicholls in emotional return
Out-of-contract Northampton Town striker Alex Nicholls has said his return to football after a 20-month absence was an emotional experience.
The 26-year-old scored a hat-trick from the bench in Saturday's 9-0 friendly win over Sileby Rangers after suffering a double leg break in October 2012.
"The reception was fantastic. I really appreciate all the support I've had," he told BBC Radio Northampton.
"I got a little bit emotional as I ran on. I managed to fight back the tears."
Nicholls joined the Cobblers from Walsall in 2012 and suffered the horrific injury just four months later while scoring a goal in a 2-0 win over Port Vale.
He had eight goals in 19 games at the time, but required surgery and a skin graft after breaking his tibia and fibula.
Despite being out of contract in the summer, boss Chris Wilder has given Nicholls the opportunity to remain with the squad and prove he is fit enough to earn a new deal.
"We had a chat before the summer and he just told me I need to prove my fitness and robustness on the pitch," said the forward.
"And that's what I'm planning to do.
"If you're shying away from tackles you shouldn't be playing football - regardless of what I've been through.
"The second goal I had to slide in on the line and I was really pleased to score a goal like that."