The 29-year-old limped out of the Easter Road side’s 7-0 mauling by Malmo on 25 July with a back knock, sparking fears he may have aggravated the spinal problems which have sporadically plagued him since 2011.
However, the injury suffered against the Swedes was completely unrelated and McPake completed his first 90 minutes in five weeks against Motherwell under-20s on Monday evening.
The big defender concedes a fitness setback would previously have prompted a couple of weeks of sulking – but not this time, as baby Ailey was born just six days later, completely changing the player’s outlook on life.
Plus, McPake knows he would get a clip round the ear if he dared complain about a sore back in front of sleep-starved new mum, Dawn.
He said: “I used to go home and moan about injuries or moan about training, a bad pass here and there, but that just doesn’t happen now.
“I have a different perspective on things. It’s just not as important anymore – Ailey is important. Everything revolves around her.
“If I go home and say to my wife: ‘My back’s a bit sore’, then I’ll just get a slap in the face and handed the baby!
“Being a dad puts a totally different slant on things and a different perspective on football.”
Although the Northern Ireland international says he is ready to be considered against St Johnstone on Saturday, he has no intention of battering the manager’s door down or rushing back into action.
In typically honest fashion, McPake concedes that he has previously informed Fenlon that he is fit to play when he was still toiling for fitness. That, he says, is a thing of the past.
He added: “I’ve enough experience of coming back too soon, maybe training for a couple of days and playing a game straight away.
“I need to look after myself. The manager has seen first-hand that I will sometimes say I am ready when I am not. I’ve not set targets this time.”