DORCHESTER Town winger Tom Blair says he has “learned his lesson” as he prepares to return to the matchday squad following a seven-game suspension.

Blair has scored five goals this season and has been a standout performer, but his disciplinary issues have plagued the county town side’s campaign.

He has been sent off three times, with one more suspension due to yellow cards. Blair was banned for seven games after he was sent off for an off the ball incident against Blackfield & Langley on New Year’s Day, a game he also scored in.

On the subject of his disciplinary record, Blair told Echosport: “I just can’t wait to be back to be honest, it’s been so long and a real lesson learned. I won’t be getting sent off anytime soon I can tell you that.

“People will say I should have learned my lesson earlier but I swear I have worked harder than I ever have off the pitch on the mental side of things and I will be coming back stronger than ever.”

Dorchester have lost each of the seven games Blair has been suspended for, leaving them bottom of the league and facing an increasingly uphill battle for survival in the BetVictor Southern Premier South.

“Obviously it’s been hard watching the team struggle and feeling a little bit helpless but really it’s my own fault,” said Blair. “I feel like I have let the team down.

“I have been trying to support them as much as I can while I’ve been out and just focusing on staying fit.”

Asked if he thinks Dorchester would have lost their last seven games if he had not been suspended, Blair replied: “Me playing is a good thing for the team but I don’t think the only reason why we aren’t is myself. There are areas we need to improve on and one player is not going to make all the difference.

“But me being out has affected the way we have played because I think I have had quite a good season and I feel I have had quite a big impact when I have played.”

Blair says he has been working hard to manage the mental side of his game during his suspension, and hopes to be like a new signing for the Magpies when he returns.

He said: “It’s not the football I have struggled with, it’s upstairs. I feel like I have grown a lot and it has made me appreciate just how much I love playing football.

“It’s massive. It’s sort of like a fresh start for me as well because I have been out so long it’s like coming back from pre-season.

“I want to come back and contribute as much as I can in a positive way by scoring goals and helping the team.”

He will be hoping to return to the side and showcase his new found mental strength tomorrow, with Blair back in contention for the trip to Merthyr Town.

“It’s a massive game but every game is massive now,” he said. “We have 12 cup finals ahead of us but we still have a chance. Because of where we are it’s in other teams’ hands a bit but anything is possible still.

“I haven’t written us off, none of the players have, not Leigh (Robinson) not Robbie (Herrera) or any of the staff.

“There are still quite a lot of points on offer and with a couple of wins on the bounce we could be right back in it.”

Dorchester Town travel to Merthyr tomorrow in the BetVictor Southern Premier South (3pm).