New Everton signing James McFadden admits there was a point when he feared his career would be ended prematurely by a knee injury earlier this year.
The Scotland international played his first match in 13 months when he had 45 minutes for the Toffees' reserves against Sunderland on Tuesday but the situation looked much bleaker towards the end of last season when he broke down in his rehabilitation from surgery on a cruciate knee ligament injury.
"I was training in March and then broke down again and when I spoke to the surgeon he said my time might be up. That was hard to take," said the 28-year-old. "Birmingham had a two-year option on me but decided not to take it, which was fair enough. It was hard that I didn't know when I was going to get back playing."
He added: "I think you have to take every day as it comes. It was one of those where the specialist kept saying 'Come back and see me and we will see where you are every month or so.'
"Thankfully every time I went back there was improvement and he was happy enough for me to return to training.
"It has worked out for the best. I'll just move on now and try to be fit and ready to play games."
McFadden's last match was in September 2010 and he admits being sidelined for so long was tough.
"It was really hard mentally trying to come to terms with not even playing in the foreseeable future," he added. "I didn't watch a lot of football last year because of it but I knuckled down and worked hard on my rehabilitation.
"Hopefully in the next couple of months I'll see the benefits of the hard work I have put in in the gym in the last 13 months.
"It has been a hard year but it is funny when you are the end of that year it doesn't seem that long."