Former Preston North End midfielder Paul Coutts, 26, has not competed in regular first team football for over one year as the Derby County star suffered a dislocated knee cap in a League Cup defeat to Leicester City.
Now, Coutts is desperate to re-claim his place in the Rams starting XI.
“I’m delighted to have got back out there, I am blowing a little, but you expect that after such a long time out," said Coutts after having completed 45 minutes of action in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
“At the start of pre-season, maybe I wasn’t quite ready to come back in with my leg muscle, I was probably asking for an injury.
“I feel great now, I have built up my strength and I hope I am over my injuries. I’m ready to go again.
“My knee was quite stable, but everything around was a bit weak. With how intense pre-season is, I probably wasn’t quite right for it," he said.
“Since then, I have been in the gym non-stop with fitness coaches and physios and I have got myself right. I have a lot of conditioning work and I feel much better for it.
“I have always stayed positive throughout my injury, hoping that once I got right, I would get a chance.
“The management have been brilliant with me since I have come back training, but have been cautious because I have been out for such a long time.
“I have played 45 today and I feel fine. I could have played on, but it is step by step and I am going to build up slowly.
“Hopefully all the injuries are behind me and that will be it and I will be ready to get back into the team.”
Coutts was bought for £150,000 and was a Derby County mainstay in his first full season, participating in 44 League matches. However, last year, he featured just eight times.