Veteran Derry forward Paddy Bradley attributes the encouragement he has received from manager John Brennan as being one of the factors in his speedy recovery from a serious hamstring injury.
Bradley had stepped down from the Oak Leaf squad in 2010 before being encouraged to return by Brennan in his first term in charge.
Then injury threatened to end Bradley’s career earlier this year before Brennan intervened to persuade the 30-year-old Kilrea schoolteacher that he still has a big part to play in his plans.
The upshot is that Bradley is raring to go in the Power NI McKenna Cup with Brennan eager to chart his progress.
It is possible that Bradley, Derry's prime source of scores for the past decade, could well see action when the holders open their campaign on Sunday.
“John is actually one of the individuals who has given me most encouragement while I was out injured,” explains Bradley.
“I would be talking to him most weeks and taking great heart from what he had to say to me.
“I have to say I took to him from he first took over the Derry reins a year ago.”
Bradley has been rigidly following a punishing fitness programme but is now deriving benefits from his self-sacrifice and commitment.
“I feel a lot better and I’m looking forward to getting back into action again,” he added.
“I did not think at one stage that I would be turning out for Derry again but John Brennan has played a big part in resurrecting my career,” points out Bradley.
When Derry won the McKenna Cup last year beating Tyrone in the final Bradley played a big part in their success and as they embark on their bid to retain the trophy the Glenullin clubman is hopeful that his scoring touch will prove a bonus.
“It’s always good to get any kind of silverware and obviously it would be good if we could get off to an encouraging start in 2012,” adds Bradley.
He will certainly be pulling out all the stops to maintain his high standards in order to cement his personal pride and to repay Brennan for the faith he has been showing in him.
“John is a real players’ man, someone who believes that they are to be valued,” he said.
“He will always do his best for them and they in turn want to do their best for him,” insists Bradley.
Derry begin their programme against Cavan, then face UUJ and complete their group series with what could prove a very tasty encounter against neighbours Donegal, a match which will be a re-run of this year's final which was tinged with controversy.