JUSTIN Bennett has given AFC Totton a major boost ahead of Saturday's home game against Evo-Stik Division One South leaders Evesham United (3pm).

But manager Louis Langdown is not going overboard just yet following news that the veteran marksman has got the all-clear to play again after a year out injured.

Summer signing Bennett, who missed the whole of last season with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament while at Oxford City, had an appointment with the surgeon at 6pm last night.

At 6.02pm the former Gosport Borough hotshot was on the phone to Langdown confirming that he had been given the thumbs up.

“When the phone went so quickly, I thought ‘oh no’, but he said the surgeon was really pleased with the outcome,” said Langdown.

“Benno’s buzzing, but I don’t want to put him under any pressure.

“It’s one thing the surgeon saying the knee is tight and strong, but Justin’s got to be confident about getting fit to play and taking hits.

“He’s been training with the group from day one, but we’ve always been careful what we’ve done with him.

“He’s not been involved in any real contact stuff and we’ve had to put the reins on people like Chuggy and Smudge (defenders Callum Chugg and Jack Smith).

“Now he can join in properly. There’ll be no more orange bib in training, he’ll be full contact.”

Whether Bennett will be in the squad to face Evesham remains to be seen.

“If he can play 90 minutes and score a couple of goals, that would be great!” laughed Langdown.

But, on a serious note, he added: “There’s no point getting him to this stage and then just throwing him in at the deep end.

“He’ll get the opportunity to play, but it won’t be a 90-minute job from day one.”

Totton have had a two-week break since beating Street 2-0 at home, giving Eddie Perrett and Stuart Green time to get over minor niggles.

But midfielder Liam Crook needs more rest time to get over a medial knee ligament problem picked up against Moneyfields.

“He hobbled through against Hamworthy and Street, but it’s hurting him,” said Langdown.

“He’s going to be out for a bit.”

Loanee striker Tom Bearwish also picked up an injury with his parent club Eastleigh.

If fit, the Spitfires may well need the teenager for their trip to Hartlepool.