Brighton & Hove Albion defender Shane Duffy is fit and raring to go ahead of the new season after recovering from a groin injury.
The centre-back noticed the problem back towards the end of last season, but is now eager to push on after the minor setback saw him miss the first week of pre-season training.
He said, “I felt it at the end of the season; it was probably after the Manchester United game and I was having injections and tablets to get me through it.
“Then I went away with the Republic of Ireland squad and I probably made it worse. I thought I would then have four or five weeks to let it heal, but I tried to go back in the gym and it was still sore.
“It was at that point when I went and got the operation because I just needed it to be done.
“Now I am back in full training; I won’t play on Saturday, but it should be the only game I’ll miss, so I’m quite lucky that it’s healed quickly. I’ve trained twice this week and I’ll train on Friday, so it hasn’t put me that far behind the rest of the group."
The Irishman reflected on England's exit from FIFA World Cup at the semi-final stage, and admitted to receiving some friendly banter for cheering on Croatia.
"A couple [of players] weren't happy with me. I was delighted for England [reaching the semi-finals], don't get me wrong, but I was delighted they didn't win it!
"Then, when they actually lost, I felt a bit bad because I was actually cheering for Croatia.
"Dunky wasn't happy and I was a bit gutted for them. It brought the whole country together. I just couldn't listen to the fans and that song, it's coming home."
Duffy played World Cup finalists France in a friendly back in May, and is tipping Didier Deschamps's side to lift the famous trophy on Sunday.
"We played them in the summer [lost 2-0] and I said to my mate they are going to go very close to winning it, and they had half a team out that day.
"They were just cruising. They knew they'd beat us probably like that. You could just see the attacking players they have. We all sat back in the hotel and said if they don't get to the final there will be something wrong in the camp.
"I think they will probably go on and win it. They are one of the best international teams I've played by a mile. If they did win it would be no surprise to me, but Croatia are no mugs."