Caley Thistle defender Kevin McHattie hopes his injury woes are finally behind him after making his return to first team duty.
Knee injuries troubled McHattie earlier in his career, while a hip injury has kept out for most of this season.
But, having played 60 minutes in Caley Jags’ Scottish Cup second round win at Buckie Thistle on Tuesday, McHattie hopes he can finally get his campaign up and running.
He said: “I had only been back in full training a week before the Buckie game, which was a target for me.
“I’m a wee bit stiff, but before and during the game I was feeling good. I’m really happy to get the 60 minutes behind me.
“I played with this injury last season and it needed done.
“Time off after lockdown has made it hard for me to get back to the way I was fitness-wise.
“A good run of games can give me confidence, which is what I need. It is tough being injured, but that’s football.”
McHattie knows injuries are part and parcel of the game, but he has had more than his fair share to contend with.
The 27 year-old has pushed himself to the limit for the cause in the past, but this season has been more challenging given the restrictions caused by Covid-19.
He said: “As a person, I want to push myself through the pain barrier. Injuries are going to happen.
“You do need to look after yourself, but you need that loyalty to the club to put yourself out there, grit your teeth and get on with it.
“It is all sorted now. It is a credit to the club – they’ve done well to get surgery sorted so quickly and me back this early.
“Rehab has been a bit of a strange one with gyms and pools being closed, but I’ve got there eventually. The bad weather didn’t help.
“It’s been a tough old ride, but I’m out the other end. It’s tough being stop-start. You can’t get a good run of seasons in you.
“That’s what I’ve struggled with. I just need to work hard and get back to full fitness, get minutes under my belt and get back to where I should be.”
McHattie, who had made two brief substitute appearances prior to his hour-long runout at Victoria Park in midweek, was relieved to come through a testing game against the Highland League side and expects another against Arbroath when his side return to Championship action at Caledonian Stadium today.
He said: “It was difficult. Anything can happen in the cup, as we saw with the Hearts defeat (at Brora).
“It was good for me to get back playing and reaching the next round is ideal for us.
“The boys are on a good run and everything is looking up.
“Arbroath is a tough game – every game is right now.
“It is the team with the right attitude that goes the extra mile and work harder on the day that usually wins through.
“It is like a cup final for us. If we manage to get the win, we’re looking up the way, lose and we’re looking down.
“It’s a must-win for us. The boys are looking confident after three wins and hoping for three points.”