ASHLEY Grimes has offered hope to any Bury player frozen out of the first team set-up since Ronnie Jepson took charge after forcing his way back into contention.

The 26-year-old summer signing came off the bench last Saturday for his first run-out with the senior side since mid-September.

And while the former Rochdale and Lincoln striker hooked a late chance wide, he was encouraged to be back in the reckoning.

“When the lads have been preparing for games, I haven’t been involved for the last two or three,” said Grimes.

“It was a terrible feeling to have been away from the first team. You just want to play games. You want to run out at 3pm every Saturday like every footballer does, so I am just trying to work hard to get to that.”

The one-time Manchester City trainee had fallen foul of Jepson’s decision to trim down training to involve only the players he intended to pick for his matchday squad.

Grimes was left to train with the development squad after working his way back to fitness following a month out with a knee injury.

“I had some patella tendinitis and had a few injections down in Leicester, which seem to have gotten to the bottom of it,” he explained.

“I’m feeling great now, no pain whatsoever.

“I have been training for the last couple of weeks but I just haven’t been involved, which has obviously been disappointing.”

Grimes’ early Gigg Lane career has been somewhat of a stop-start affair.

After being signed by previous manager Kevin Blackwell, he failed to score in eight appearances earlier in the campaign before being laid low by injury.

His struggle to get back into the side obviously dented his pride, but with none of the club’s strikers able to put a decent scoring run together, Grimes knows his opportunity could be just around the corner.

The young striker has a decent scoring pedigree, notching up 22 goals over the last two seasons at Rochdale and 17 from 30 appearances the season before that at Lincoln.

“The last three or four years I have played a lot of games and scored a lot of goals, so It’s tough to take,” he admitted.

“But the manager has his decisions to make and I have got to work hard.

“I hope to play some games and I’m desperate for a run in the team so hopefully, if I get my head down, that will come.”

Grimes knows, however, that he probably won’t be vying for honours this year with Bury.

After a nightmare start they are now just one place above the dreaded drop zone, and Grimes believes they must steel themselves for a relegation battle.

“It is at the moment – you have only got to look at the league table, it doesn’t tell lies,” he said.

“We’ve got to dig deep. We have got more than enough ability in the squad but we can’t keep saying that, we’ve got to start producing.”