Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar has admitted in the Birmingham Mail that his injury problems have made this season a 'hard' one.
Vlaar went into the campaign following a brilliant World Cup, where he shone for Holland, but he has failed to build on the confidence he gained from that international tournament.
The centre-back has impressed whenever he has been played in the Villa team, but injuries have meant that his chances have been sporadic and the defender has admitted that it has been a frustrating period of his career.
"It’s been a hard season for me with all the injuries and now I just want to play and be important for the team,” he said.
“To feel the joy and relief after the West Brom game when so many people came on the pitch was great. Now I understand the impact it has on the fans, how big this club is and what it all means."
Vlaar has played 20 times for the Claret and Blues this term and he will be hoping to increase this total between now and the end of the season, as he is back fit again.
When fully match-sharp, Vlaar is arguably Villa's finest defender and he could become a key part of what Tim Sherwood is trying to achieve at the club.
At the moment, though, the commanding centre-back's future remains unclear, with his contract expiring in the summer.
If Vlaar does leave Villa Park it will be a blow to the side, as they appear to be heading in the right direction, but his stop-start season has already shown that they have a number of players in the their squad who are capable of stepping up to cover for his absence.