Aston Villa striker Libor Kozak has opened up on his battle to return from a broken leg in an interview with the club’s official website, revealing he was concerned his career might be over at one stage.
The 25-year-old Czech forward was injured in a training ground collision with Ciaran Clark in January last season, but had looked on course to make his comeback in October until suffering a significant setback.
Complications in the healing process forced him to go under the knife for a second time, putting his return date back several months, with the since-departed Paul Lambert declaring the whole ordeal “a nightmare” at the time.
However, new boss Tim Sherwood revealed prior to the weekend’s visit of Stoke that the tall front man is now back training with the Under-21s and could even return to first-team action before the end of the campaign.
Kozak himself is eager to help the club out in their bid to avoid the drop, and has paid tribute to both his teammates and the claret and blue faithful for their support during his long-term absence.
"I feel good. Now I am out training on the pitch. That is a really good feeling,” he said. "It will be an amazing moment when I train with the players in the first team. That will be a big thing.
"When I went for my second operation, I was concerned about my future in football. I think that's natural if you've been out for a long time and then you have a setback. You wonder if you're ever going to come back.
"This was very hard. I was worried about my career, of course, but I had people around me who told me I would be 100% fine. But very soon I realised I would be fine too.
"Every member of the squad has come up to me and given me words of support,” he continued. “The fans have been unbelievable too. They have been waiting for me! They keep asking me on social media - when are you back?
"I want to pay back this faith in me with some good performances and good goals. The fans here are so nice to me. What a feeling it will be to put the Villa shirt on again.”
Signed from Lazio in September 2013 for €6.5 million, Kozak netted four times in his first 15 games for Villa, showing clear top-flight credentials before being forced onto the sidelines.
With the club on course to be the Premier League’s lowest-ever scorers after recording just 12 goals in 25 games, and in 18th-place with 13 matches left, having the former Serie A star back fit for the final run in would be a huge boost to their survival hopes.