It has been a long road back to 90-minute outings for Steven Pienaar.
Everton’s Europa League encounter with Krasnodar on Thursday saw the experienced forward complete a game for the first time in nine-and-a-half months.
A series of niggling knocks have forced the South African playmaker onto the treatment table at regular intervals.
He had hoped to have seen the back of them after starting the season in Roberto Martinez’s plans against Leicester City, but was back on the sidelines following a meeting with Arsenal.
Pienaar admits it has been tough to remain motivated, but hopes a run of bad luck is now firmly behind him and he can get back to aiding the Toffees in their domestic and continental quests.
He told the Liverpool Echo: “During the pre-season I worked really hard to get my knee strong.
“I played the first game and thought I was getting back into things again but then, in the second game, I got injured and was out for nearly six weeks.
“I was heartbroken but I pushed myself to try and get back as quick as I could.
“I broke down again but I’ve just got to keep on going. Hopefully I can push on and try and get match fitness again. I have to take it day by day.”
Martinez needs to get key men fit and firing, with an inconsistent opening to the season leaving the Toffees in the bottom-half of the Premier League standings.
Pienaar boasts the creative spark required to ignite their campaign and has also struck up a formidable partnership with Leighton Baines down the Everton left in recent years.
He will be hoping to play a full part over the busy Christmas period and bring festive cheer to a disgruntled Goodison Park fan base.