CIRENCESTER TOWN’S veteran striker Jody Bevan is getting so close to yet another unlikely comeback from serious injury at the age of 33 that he is already plotting his next goal celebration.

Obviously, the first goal back after his latest cruciate ligament-induced setback will be special – the one he craves most, however, will come five goals later when he takes his Southern League career tally to 250.

Just don’t expect a knee slide or any back flips when it happens.

Broad of beam, prematurely grey of hair and with the sort of shuffling gait that is less Thierry Henry and more Lenny Henry, Bevan is no one’s model goalscorer. His record says different.

He is justifiably proud of those 244 goals spread across five clubs and 16 seasons – he doesn't count his goals at a lower level. And such is the man’s relish for a challenge that you would not bet against him reaching the target quickly.

Five years ago, cruciate ligament damage to his left knee – complicated by a leg fracture – resulted in total knee reconstruction and the removal of all cartilage.

The surgeon told him he would never play again. After a year off and spurred on by the fact that he was just 20 goals short of his 200th, Gloucester-based Bevan defied medical opinion and returned to football.

The double ton came for Cinderford in a local derby with Bishops Cleeve and to celebrate he held aloft a message he had kept stuffed in his sock which referred self deprecatingly to ‘200 toe pokes, shin-hits and deflections.’ Last season it was not injury but anno domini that appeared to be catching up with him, at least in the opinion of one of his greatest fans, Cirencester Town manager Brian Hughes.

“I’d helped Ciren get promoted for the second time in my two spells at the club, but I don’t think Hughesie thought I could cut it again at a higher level,” said Jody.

“I dual registered with Shortwood because it looked like my chances would be limited, but I ended up Ciren’s top scorer by some way with 21 goals.

“I have scored more in a season previously but that was the most satisfying season of my career because I felt I had made an all round contribution to the team.

“In hindsight, that season drained me physically and mentally more than I knew and I was not in the best shape this pre-season. In the second league match of the campaign, against Stourbridge, I collided with their keeper and felt my right knee go.

“Scans showed it was a torn cruciate again and though no operation or reconstruction was required, there were complications with the swelling in the soft tissue.

“I assumed I might not play again – I had certainly written off this season and booked a holiday in Lanzarote for January.

“The rest and rehab has gone really well, though – I am flying through the exercises now. I kicked a ball in training for the first time last Thursday and if all goes well I may have an outing in a Development Squad game on New Year’s Eve.

“I’m not sure how the knee will cope when things get more competitive but if I never play again it is not going to break me, like it would have done five years ago.”

Bevan has watched the displays of his bottom-of-the-table colleagues improve immeasurably in recent games.

“It was a very inexperienced team at the start of the season and I didn’t hold back from telling them how badly they were playing.

“Now Nathan (Davies) and Kev (Sawyer) are back, results have improved. We are in the mire but the way we are playing at the moment we can get out of trouble.”

It has not escaped Bevan’s notice that Ciren’s joint leading scorers this season are Jon Else and Mitch Bryant with just three goals apiece. Encouraged by the scathing if affectionate banter from some of his own team-mates, Jody would like nothing more than to hit 250 goals and snatch the leading goalscorer title again in the half season that remains.

And the old warhorse may even squeeze in another season after the present one.

He said: “I have had so much time to rest and recharge recently, why not play again next season – as long as there is a challenge to be had.”