Nathan McDonald knows he doesn’t need to do anything out of the ordinary to try to impress when he returns to the Braintree Town starting line-up tonight.

With Nick Hamann suspended after being sent off during the Iron’s 3-2 win at Luton Town on Saturday, McDonald is set to return to the team for their crunch Skrill Premier clash with Gateshead at the Amlin Stadium tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).

It will be the 22-year-old’s first appearance since Hamann took possession of the position at the end of October and he is keen to impress manager Alan Devonshire.

McDonald knows a good performance could see him stay as Braintree’s number one for their remaining three games as they continue to stay in the heart of the race for the play-offs but he won’t be doing anything silly as he looks to catch the boss’ eye.

He said: “When I came back into the team against Tamworth last year after a spell out I think it was one of the best games I’ve played so hopefully I can do something similar this time.

“I’ve just had to be patient and try to stay sharp while on the sidelines.

“That hasn’t been easy because we haven’t been training much because of all the games, but I felt I did OK when I came on at Luton.

“I did think about a loan move while I was out and a few clubs came in for me, but none of them seemed the right move at the time.

“So hopefully I can win my place back now.

“The manager has just kept saying to me that my chance would come and that I would need to be ready when it did.

“I feel ready, but I just have to play my normal game and try not to impress too much by doing things I wouldn’t normally do.

“That’s when you can make mistakes.”

Hamann isn’t the only Braintree player who will be sitting the game against Gateshead out through suspension.

Striker Sean Marks is completing a three-match ban for getting sent off against Salisbury, while skipper Kenny Davis has the second of two games out after totting up ten cautions during the season.

Braintree, who head into tonight’s game sitting sixth know that a win against fourth-placed Gateshead could put them back into the top five if third-place Grimsby beat fifth-placed Halifax in one of the division’s other games being played tonight.