MARK RICKETTS has vowed to become Captain Fantastic as he bids to put last season’s nightmare behind him.

Cards’ no-nonsense leader has been waiting patiently for his return to first team action for nearly eight months. During his absence Woking have celebrated a return to the Blue Square Premier and basked in the glory of a Surrey Senior Cup final triumph.

And though the skipper remained a prominent figure around the club, watching from the sidelines has left the captain craving a return to the limelight.

With the start of the new season just days away, Ricketts says the frustration of missing so much of last season will drive him forward into the new campaign.

He said: “I’ve been away quite a while and I’ll be doing all I can to make sure Woking have a good season – I hope I can be Captain Fantastic.”

Speaking to the Woking News & Mail, Ricketts said that time away fro football had reignited his love for the game.

He reckons the manager has done a tremendous job nursing “an excitable kid” back up to full-fitness, and said he  is looking forward to getting back into the heart of Woking’s engine room.

He said: “I feel good and I feel like I’m at 100 per cent now.

“The gaffer has been careful with the amount of minutes I’ve been playing in games and built it up gradually.

“I’ve felt good in every game I’ve played and post match I’ve felt fresh which is very positive.

“Missing so much of last season definitely fuels me going into the new campaign. I’ve been really excited about every pre-season game so far.

"It’s been like playing football as a kid again. I’m excited for every game anyway but even more so this pre-season – I’m just so happy to be out there and kicking a ball about.

“I have been doing a lot of extra work in my own time to try to get back to max fitness and I want to make sure we achieve something as a club next season.”

Garry Hill has bolstered his rearguard in a bid to make Woking’s defence impenetrable next term.

Ricketts will anchor the midfield infront of new-recruits Brett Johnson and Jack Parkinson – two players the captain believes will play a vital role against the Dragons.

“I’m really looking forward to see how we cope in the league above. The team is taking shape really well which is nice and the strength we have in the squad at the moment is another reason to be excited.

“Brett has come in and done fantastically well, he’s been a great signing for the club as has Jack. They’ve both looked incredibley solid and adding to that is Joe and Doylie who are top-draw centre-halves.

“In those areas we are really strong and, depending on what formation we play next season, I think we’ve got a great core to build around and provide the foundations for when we break forward and go on the attack.

“I like playing in the hole, breaking up play and trying to get the ball rolling again so we can break – that’s an important job.

“All over the world you see players in that role especially when a team plays three in the centre of the park.” And though avoiding relegation remains the club’s top priority, Ricketts is adamant Woking are not just there to make up the numbers.

He firmly believes Hill’s new-look Cards can upset the odds and challenged his team mates to help him banish the personal pain of last season and achieve something truly memorable.

"I want to win something. It would be nice to come away with something next season be it a trophy or a major finish – something big to make up for missing such a large chunk of last season.

“We know it's going to be a very tough league but we’ll be giving it everything week in, week out.

“There are a lot of top players out there and clubs with bigger budgets than us.

“But the squad the gaffer has put together so far is brilliant and hopefully we can really compete and cause a bit of a surprise."