JAKE Reeves today paid tribute to City boss Gary Bowyer’s “brilliant” support in his long struggle to get back on the pitch.

The midfielder is buzzing after coming through his first appearance since January 2018 when he captained the side in Tuesday’s Leasing.com Trophy tie against Rochdale.

Reeves produced a man-of-the-match display in his 62-minute outing, setting up the City goal as well as hitting the bar.

READ MORE: Reeves real winner in Trophy exit

The 26-year-old is hugely grateful for the manager’s backing during his marathon battle to return.

Reeves said: “He’s been brilliant with me. He’s put an arm round me when I’ve needed it and spoke to me regularly, especially when I wasn’t even training with the boys.

“That meant a lot because it can be tough. But he’s been really sympathetic with it and given me the time to get back fit.

“It’s been step by step. That’s probably why the gaffer hasn’t given away too much in interviews in terms of where we’ve been at and how much training we’ve done.

“We know in ourselves that we were going to get there. It was just about doing the right things and getting to the right point and we’re obviously at it now.”

Being named skipper for his comeback after 22 months out came as an added bonus for Reeves.

“Captaining the side was a nice touch from the gaffer,” he added.

“He jokingly mentioned it in training but I wasn’t really sure until I saw the armband on my peg. It was a great feeling to go out there again and a privilege to be given that responsibility.”

Bowyer is urging caution against rushing Reeves back and will watch carefully how he responds over the next few days to playing again.

He has told City fans not to get carried away - a warning that the player has also taken on board.

“It’s probably a hidden message to myself. I was knocking on his door two weeks ago.

“I’m always eager to do more and improve every day, get more fitness under my belt. But that’s up to the staff to manage.

“It’s a nice relief to go back out there and prove some people wrong that you can get back fit as well.

“The club feels a lot happier and you can tell that with how the lads are performing and where they are in the league.

“The gaffer’s done well with changing it around and putting a positive smile back on the faces of the fans.”

Reeves insists he is only looking forward after nearly two years of being out the picture.

“Nobody expects a big injury like that, especially with the setbacks. But if you're not ready to take that on, you shouldn't be in it."