Southend manager Mark Molesley was left frustrated as Nile Ranger’s return to action lasted just 11 minutes during Southend’s drab 0-0 draw with Salford at Roots Hall.
The controversial striker – who had not played professionally since January 2018 – came on as a second-half substitute for the Shrimpers.
But the forward soon had to make way.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work with Nile but the worry is it’s hard to recreate that match intensity, that tension in your body, the adrenaline,” said Molesley.
“Unfortunately he’s felt something in his groin and it’s a real shame because he came on and had an impact right away I thought.
“He won three headers in our attacking half and another two in our box so he showed how useful he can be.”
The share of the spoils moved the 22nd-placed Shrimpers two points clear of the drop zone.
And Molesley felt it was another good point for his side.
“On reflection it was a good point and we’re continuing to be competitive in every game,” said Molesley.
“With the win on Wednesday and the draw today it’s four points from two games and most people would’ve taken that.”
Southend had the better of the first half with Emile Acquah having a well struck left-footed shot smartly saved by Vaclav Hladky before the striker sent a header from close range straight at the keeper.
Salford’s best chance came in the 71st minute when Ian Henderson saw his volley impressively saved by Southend’s substitute goalkeeper Harry Seaden.
Salford remain a point behind the play-offs but coach Warren Joyce felt the visitors deserved more than a point.
“You can’t fault the lads’ effort and drive to win the game but we’re obviously disappointed only getting a point because we felt we deserved all three,” said Joyce.
“We had the better chances but Southend are coming off the back of a good win at Forest Green in the week.
“We had a hell of a journey here, it took seven and a half hours and in the first half we looked like that because the sharpness wasn’t there.
“The second half was better but the pitch was the same for both sides.
“It’s a lively surface and if you didn’t get to the first contact it was bouncing up like a trampoline.
“But it’s another point and every single point counts.”