Newcastle United youngster Shane Ferguson is hoping to put his early season injury problems behind him, as he looks to kick on and establish himself as a first-team regular for the Magpies in 2011-12.
The 20-year-old midfielder started for Alan Pardew's side in their first pre-season friendly against Darlington back in July, but suffered an ankle injury following a collision with Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster, forcing him off at half-time.
As a result, the promising Northern Ireland international missed the club's pre-season tour of America, as well as every game since - and played the role of frustrated spectator for the opening two games of the Barclays Premier League campaign.
"It was a nightmare summer," Ferguson told nufc.co.uk. "I missed all of pre-season and it came at the worst time ever - a day before the tour of America.
"So it was bad timing, but it's just one of those things, a bit of bad luck, and hopefully I can push on now.
"I've been back about a week and played my first game for the reserves last week. I got a full 90 minutes, which was good for me to get that under my belt.
"But I need to keep working hard in training now, get my fitness back up and hopefully impress the manager enough to be included in his plans somewhere."
After returning to training as recently as last week, Thursday's Carling Cup second round tie against Scunthorpe may come a little too soon for Ferguson - who remains positive he will be given further opportunities as the season progresses.
"If I do get my chance soon it would be brilliant," he continued. "When I started pre-season I had a chance there, but I will now have to work hard to get back in, especially with the way the team have started. But hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.
"Scunthorpe will be a tough match going down there - cup matches always are as you never know what's going to happen. But the way we are playing at the moment, they will find it hard to beat us.
"The squad is looking great. There is real strength to it and some great youngsters coming through like Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vuckic, and that bodes well for us."
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