Charlie Carter credits his Chesterfield team-mates for keeping his spirits up during his first ever serious injury layoff.
The attacking midfielder twice damaged the same ankle early in the season and suffered setbacks en route to full fitness.
He spent almost five months out of action before returning, off the bench, in Saturday’s defeat by Harrogate.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
“It’s been a bit of a stressful period for me so I was over the moon to get back, I was buzzing.
“The fans gave me a nice reception, it was a good feeling.”
Carter should have only sat out around 12 weeks of football the second time he injured the ankle, but surgery and a subsequent infection kept him sidelined for a lot longer.
Understandably, it hasn’t been a happy time for the 22-year-old.
“This is my first serious injury. I was out for three weeks last season and that was about it. I thought to myself, it’s 12 weeks out, then I can get myself back in and still have a lot of the season left.
“But now I’ve come back in and there’s not long left.
“It’s been very frustrating.
“It’s a down time, you’re not going to be at your happiest because you’re not playing.”
But the support of fellow injury victims Sam Wedgbury and Laurence Maguire helped Carter to remain positive and focused on a return.
“I think it’s a lot to do with the other players around you.
“The squad, the staff keep you going.
“At first I was in there with Sam Wedgbury quite a lot.
“He’s a great character, he was always picking me up, telling me I was going to be back soon, to keep pushing and pushing.
“A bit further down the line Loz was in with me.
“It’s good when you have another person there with you that you train with, you’re getting back at similar times, you can do the running together, the gym work together.
“The players around you definitely help. You’ve got to keep each other’s spirits high.”
A lot has changed since Carter reinjured his ankle at Maidstone on 29th September.
Martin Allen, who signed him, has gone, John Sheridan has arrived and four new players have been signed.
Carter’s task now is to show Sheridan why the club bought him from Woking last summer.
“I came in under a different manager, now I’m coming back trying to impress another manager.
“When you’ve just come back, I’ve been out for over five months, you’ve just got to try and impress him and try to get back in the team.
“Keeping the ball and taking care of it is something I pride myself in, I think I’m good technically on the ball and hopefully I can prove that to the gaffer.
“Being out for so long, obviously I’m going to be rusty.
“But I just need a run of games, hopefully I can stay in the squad and I feel I can bring something to the team.”
Chesterfield supporters will be hoping that goals are what Carter can bring to the team, as he attempts to end a disappointing first season as a Spireite on a high note.
He’s already got one since his return, heading in the first goal in Tuesday night’s win over Barnet.
“It’s not the season anyone wanted.
“I was coming to the club wanting to do well, wanting to win the league.
“It has been a disappointing season for us as a squad.
“Now we look a bit better, we look like we’re going to pick up results and now it’s about consistency, winning games.
“Once I’m in the team hopefully I can add goals and assists, contribute to the team.
“Goals, assists, for a player in my position that’s what I’ll be judged on.
“It’s what I need to be pushing for.”