Sunderland midfielder David Meyler continues to make huge strides in his recovery from cruciate knee ligament injuries.
The 22-year-old Irishman suffered cruciate knee ligament damage against Manchester United in May 2010, but returned quicker than expected for the Black Cats at the end of the year.
However, Meyler was struck down by a similar issue against Aston Villa in January, suffering a torn medial ligament which again kept him out of action for several months.
Having returned to fitness under the cautious eye of manager Steve Bruce, Meyler made a Barclays Premier League return off the bench against West Brom at the weekend, and then played 90 minutes for the reserves in a 3-1 win against Wigan yesterday. All the signs now appear to be positive after 16 months to forget.
“Everything is good with the knee – it feels great. There is a mental hurdle to get over when you have had a serious injury, but getting through the 90 minutes last night – and the few minutes I had in the first team at the weekend – has got me over that," he said.
“To come off the bench against West Brom was fantastic, if unexpected. I was shocked by the reception I got. I was thrilled and I would like to thank all the fans for the support they have given me.
“I was delighted and it goes to show the manager has trust and faith in me, and I want to get back playing and repay him.”
Meyler has paid tribute to both the staff on Wearside and specialists in America, both of whom have helped the player get back to where he is now.
He was also quick to thank manager Steve Bruce for keeping faith despite the injuries, and is grateful for the opportunities to play at the Stadium of Light.
“The physios here at Sunderland, and the people I worked with over in America, have been brilliant. When you have had a serious injury like this one, it makes you appreciate your career all the more," he continued.
“When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was play football and Roy Keane gave me the chance to come to Sunderland and Steve Bruce gave me the chance to make my debut.
“When you have played 15 games or so and then the physios tell you you are going to be out for eight or nine months, it is a real kick in the teeth, but have had great support from everyone at the club and I am grateful for that.”