SATURDAY'S friendly at Elmore marked the joint return of the Bluebirds' influential defenders Colin Towler and Tom Gould.

Towler had been out of action for six weeks with a hernia injury while an ankle knock had seen Gould forced to sit out the club's opening two pre-season friendlies.

Towler went onto the operating table during the summer break but he had not fully recovered in time to face Calne or Yeovil.

"It was the first time I've had a hernia problem," he said. "After the final game of last season I discovered there was a swelling in my stomach area.

"I went to my doctor to get it checked and he sent me to hospital."

Towler added: "Tom and I started pre-season training together at the same time as the other lads in the squad. We trained by ourselves for the first couple of sessions and to be honest only did about half as much as everybody else. But we then stepped it up quite a bit and were soon back in full training."

Towler came on against Elmore for the last 20 minutes and said it had been felt good to get back into the thick of the action. "It was a fantastic feeling to get back out on the pitch and really helped to get my confidence up," he added.

"Hopefully I will be involved against Basingstoke this weekend and it will be a gradual process until I get fully match fit. The season is coming up quickly but pre-season is all about getting yourself in the right shape for the big kick-off."

Towler feels Chippenham will need to really pull together if they are going to better last season's high-flying performances. "To emulate what we did last season is going to be difficult," Towler said. "It's not going to be easy but we can do it if we all work hard on and off the field."

Although defenders Gareth Hall and Chris Collins will not be joining the club Towler said he is not taking his place in the side for granted

"At the back there are three of us in contention for places myself, Tom Gould and Gareth Davies and obviously when we play 4-4-2 one of us will miss out.

"Last season it worked out quite well for Tommy because we were all injured at different times during the season and the jigsaw always fitted.

"But now we are all available we will have to battle for our place in the first team."