NEIL Harris lavished praise on Lee Gregory after the forward came off the bench against Gillingham on Sunday to net his 25th goal of the season.
The 27-year-old replaced Aiden O'Brien with 15 minutes remaining and won a 98th-minute penalty which he fired home to give the Lions a last-gasp 2-1 win at Priestfield.
And Harris said Gregory was adamant he wanted to play against Justin Edinburgh's men after having abdominal surgery two weeks ago.
The Lions boss said: "We have to remember where the boy has come from, from the start of the season.
"It took him time last season to find his feet and at the start of this season. But then he got into his rhythm and scored a lot of goals and he played for four to five weeks in agony.
"He never trained, he might have come out on a Thursday and Fiday a little bit, but he always put himself up to play.
"He wanted to play against Fleetwood, but it was the wrong call by me so I took him off at half-time and we won the game.
"Then he had his operation on that Thursday, and he came to see me and say he wanted to be involved against Gillingham.
"Medical signs might say he shouldn't have been involved, it should have been next week.
"It shows the boy's mentality and I have to say the last training before today he looked as sharp as he did back in January. That's massive for us.
"It shows the spirit among the boys. There have been times this season when the players have knocked on my door and said, 'Gaffer, I'm fit'."
Harris revealed Gregory hasn't been the only player to play through the pain barrier in this campaign.
"Shaun Williams did it earlier in the season," Harris said. "Gregory has done it, Steve Morison has done it.
"In the last couple of weeks Mark Beevers and Byron Webster have done it.
"No one wants to be out of the team, that's the biggest thing, everyone wants to be in the team because they are enjoying what they are doing.
"There is a great spirit amongt them. When you have such a competitive squad it's hard to get back in when other players are doing well."