Dale Stephens admitted his relief to be back on the pitch again after making his first Brighton & Hove Albion appearance since April last year, and says he has returned a better person due to his experiences.
The midfielder confessed the last ten months have been excruciating due to the constant issues emerging with his injury but feels he has grown immeasurably in that time.
Speaking after his substitute appearance against Cardiff City he told seagulls.co.uk, “Obviously it is great to be back playing football again as I’ve been injured for quite some time.
“It’s been difficult. I’ve said previously how hard it’s been being out and not knowing the length of time you’re going to be out for. That’s been the worst thing, so I’ve had to go in and work hard every day and hopefully I won’t be far from full fitness when I get back to starting games.
“There weren’t proper setbacks but it was a case of it’d be one thing and then I get told it’d be another slight thing, so I had a couple of small setbacks. Obviously a test mentally but I’ve come through it now and I feel like I’m a stronger person for it.”
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The midfielder also confessed he was a little bit shocked to be included in the squad to face the Bluebirds but says he feels in good shape.
"I was slightly surprised as I’ve not played a full 90 minutes yet but I spoke to the gaffer last week and he said just be ready and I’m ready to play. I’ve been building up my fitness with the under-21s and I feel I’m ready to play now.
“I feel good but I think I’m going to have a part to play coming off the bench in the next few games and hopefully take it from there.”
Now back in contention, Stephens has already turned his attention to helping steer the club away from the wrong end of the table.
“We’re confident; we’ve got good players and a good manager. We’ve given some decent performances without getting the rewards.
“The gaffer has come in it has given everyone a lift and we’re confident we can turn it around.”