NATHAN Cameron insists he is ready to play regular football again after completing his first 90 minutes in 12 months against Rochdale.

The centre-back was one of Lee Clark’s top performers in the goalless draw at Spotland, especially in the last 35 minutes when the Shakers had to dig deep with 10 men.

Cameron was set to go out on loan a couple of weeks ago to regain match fitness after a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury.

But after Bury conceded seven goals in two games against Wigan Athletic and Bristol Rovers, boss Clark asked for the defender’s help to stop the rot against Rochdale.

And Cameron now feels he is ready for weekly football after helping his side to a much-needed clean sheet.

“I can play every week,” Cameron said.

“Tuesdays I’ve been told probably not, but Saturday to Saturday I’ll be ready.

“I’ve been ready for the last couple of weeks. The knee is good. It has been good for a couple of months now.

“It has taken me a while to get up to pace and it’s difficult with an injury like this because I have to deal with it every day of my life.

“I have to manage it and watch what I’m doing but I’m just glad to be back on the pitch.”

Given the importance of such a derby match, the former Coventry man was keen to play and add much-needed stability to the back line.

But Bury have now gone 10 years without a win at Rochdale in the league, and that statistic is not easy to swallow for Cameron.

He added: “It wasn’t easy to be thrown into a derby game but I love playing against Rochdale.

“We don’t like each other, it’s clear to see.

“The fans don’t like each other and that’s exactly what a derby is supposed to be.

“I was happy to throw a few challenges in and happy to be part of it again.

“I’m very, very tired. I think that’s my first game in nearly a year now, my first 90 minutes anyway.

“It’s exactly what we expected it to be.

“It was a tough game against our local rivals and it was always going to be a scrap.

“I still think we need to improve and I’m sure the gaffer wants more from us but we had to dig out a clean sheet and we did.

“It was always going to be difficult playing at Spotland with 11 men, but once we went down to 10 it was a slog.

“It was never going to be a pretty game where we could get it down and play, we had to grind it out.”

The 25-year-old has had to have two knee cartilage operations over the last year and even spent time at Premier League Chelsea during his recovery.

Yet during his long spell on the sidelines, Cameron always felt the support of fans willing him to return.

And he is thankful for the belief they showed during his long road back to fitness.

“As a football player you have got to stay positive and always believe in yourself,” he said. “It has obviously been frustrating the last year and watching the boys, especially last season when we didn’t do so well.

“Today was worth it to be back out there and to hear the fans supporting the team like they did, especially after the last couple of performances. They always travel in numbers so I have to thank them.”

Cameron could retain his place at home to Scunthorpe this weekend. The last time he played at the Energy Check Stadium was a two-minute cameo against Northampton in April.

The defender was played out of position in an unorthodox striker’s role, but what are his chances of leading the line alongside skipper Jermaine Beckford on Saturday?

“It could be a future partnership, you never know,” he joked. “I am just happy to help the team and to be back playing, that’s what I’ve worked so hard for.”