Ross County defender Ben Purrington is determined to consign a nightmare year of injury woes to the past.
It came nearly 12 months to the day since Purrington suffered an ankle injury in a 1-1 draw with Dundee United.
He had made a bright start to his Staggies career up until that point, having played in every game following his summer 2022 move from Charlton Athletic.
Although it was not initially expected to be a lengthy absence, Purrington ultimately missed the bulk of the remaining matches of last season, only returning for both legs of the Premiership play-off tie against Partick Thistle at the end of the campaign.
As he plotted a return to the Staggies’ line-up this term, Purrington suffered a broken toe during the Viaplay Cup group campaign which once again held him back.
After playing against the Jambos to make just his fifth appearance since his initial injury blow, the 27-year-old hopes he is finally back on track.
Ankle injury turned out to be more serious than expected
Reflecting on the chain of events ahead of this weekend’s trip to Dundee, Purrington said: “It wasn’t meant to be too long an injury to be honest.
“I broke my ankle and thought it was going to be fine without an operation.
“It got a few months down the line and I found out I needed the operation, which set me back a few months.
“I got back for the play-offs, which was a lot longer than I wanted to be out for.
“I played all of pre-season and then I had a very minor break in my toe.
“It set me back three or four weeks, by which time people were doing well in the team and I had to fight my way back in.
“At that point I was just getting back fit, I had played three or four in a row and I felt good. All of a sudden it set me back again.
“There was a spell where I did think: ‘Is this going to get fully right?’
“Even up until a couple of months ago, I was thinking the mobility was not there, and I was still running in a certain way, but I feel good now.”
Difficult moments shortly after switch to Dingwall
Purrington arrived at Dingwall last summer with nearly 250 appearances in English football to his name.
Having experienced no major injury issues prior to the initial ankle setback, Purrington feels it was an untimely blow so soon after his switch to Scottish football.
He added: “It was tough. When you are away from people and you are not playing, you are coming in every day to go to the gym and you are not even out on the grass for a lot of it.
“I struggled for a long time, even getting back out running. The mobility of my ankle just never really quite got back to what it quite should have in the space of time we thought it would.
“It was through nobody’s fault – it was just a bit of a freak injury.
“You just want to be playing football. It’s what you are paid to do. It’s your job and your profession.
“You almost feel like you are watching the lads training every day – we weren’t in a great spot at the time last season either.
“You are not bringing anything to the group, although you are trying to do what you can off the pitch.
“Hopefully this year I can have a bit more of a steady run and try to play a few more games.”
Staggies aiming to bounce back against Dundee
Should he be selected for the trip to Dens Park this weekend, Purrington is aiming to help County bounce back from a run of three straight defeats in all competitions.
Purrington added: “It’s a game we look at to try and get something from.
“We do that in any game, but when we look at Dundee who have just come up, it’s one we’ve got to be trying to capitalise on.
“We have had some tough games, we played Aberdeen twice and they are going to be up there come the end of the season.
“There have also been games against Hearts, Rangers and Celtic.
“We have had a tough start, with some good results against the likes of St Johnstone, but it’s a game we go into hoping to get something from.”