Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Woodgate has been speaking of his delight at making a comeback to the training pitch.
The 34-year-old former Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur centre-back picked up a thigh injury during shooting practice back in September.
It is only this week that former England international Woodgate returned to training, and he is overjoyed to have done so.
“I’ve been out for three months with a nasty tendon injury in my thigh which I did in shooting practice funnily enough,” he told Middlesbrough’s official website.
“It’s one of those things, but I’m back playing now and believe me it gets harder as you get older to get the sharpness back – it’s really tough.
“It was exactly like the injury that kept me out for so long in Spain. The injury I had at Newcastle was also the same tendon, but there was a bit of messing about with the injury and I came back too early…
“I’ve worked hard and I’m back now. I’ve learnt to never rush injuries because I’ve done that before and it keeps you out for a lot longer.”
Woodgate is not unused to picking up injuries: that has been the story of his career.
The Englishman made his name at West Yorkshire outfit Leeds, and after playing for Newcastle United, he joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2004.
Since then, though, Woodgate has suffered injuries after injuries. Once heralded as a ‘complete’ centre-back, the former Stoke City man could not fulfil his potential due to injuries.
Woodgate (re-)joined his former club Middlesbrough in the summer of 2012 and is now trying to help them regain promotion to the Premier League.
Even if Woodgate does go on to play a key role in that quest, his story will always be a case of ‘what if’.