Mike Williamson has been pushing himself as hard as possible to get back to fitness in Newcastle's hour of need, and he was thrilled to finally be able to take his place in the centre of defence in Tuesday's win at Bolton.
The 28-year-old kept Steven Taylor out of the side last season until breaking his arm in May, and in only his second appearance this term in a Carling Cup clash with Scunthorpe he suffered an ankle injury that would eventually rule him out for four months.
With Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini also subsequently sidelined the Magpies shipped 10 goals in four games prior to the 2-0 victory at the Reebok Stadium. Williamson said: "It's been a while. It's been very frustrating but very nice to come back, and with a clean sheet and a win, so it couldn't be better."
He added: "At the time (I suffered the injury) I was trying to run it off and I didn't know what I'd done because it was a strange twist with my knee and my ankle. But the next day I realised the length of time it was going to be.
"It's one of those things in football, an occupational hazard. It's been a long time to reflect but I've done a lot of good rehab, the medical team have worked me hard and I feel good.
"The last week of my rehab was accelerated somewhat. My thoughts go out to Steven, who's done very well. I'm sure he'll come back fitter and stronger."
The signing of former Wycombe and Torquay player Williamson from Portsmouth in January 2010 was typical of Newcastle's more low-key approach to recruitment in recent years.
The defender had never played in the Premier League prior to the Magpies' promotion that season but he found his feet quickly and is looking forward to another run of games.
He said: "I've had a good period in the team and it's just unfortunate I've had a couple of injuries. It would be nice now to stay injury free and concentrate on putting in some good performances."