Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham took a significant step towards a first team return after featuring for the club's reserve team against Sheffield United last night.
The 32-year-old has been out of action for six months after suffering a knee ligament injury against Chelsea last term, and has only recently stepped-up his training at the Britannia Stadium.
Higginbotham is under no illusions that he still has some way to go before getting back into the Potters' first team, but scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory is a good start.
"It's been a long old time to be out of action, but all the hard work has been worth it just by being out there on the pitch today," he told Stoke City Player.
"It was a nice bonus to score the winning goal, but the main thing for me was just to get through those 45 minutes without feeling any affects of the injury. Touch wood everything feels okay at the moment, and hopefully that will be the same tomorrow.
"I was just so desperate to get out there, and I won't lie I was a little nervous before the game, but everything went well and it's a big step for me. There is still a long way to go though because it's going to be important to manage it in the right way now, which I am sure I will do with the fantastic medical staff behind me here."
Whilst the appearance will have raised fans hopes of seeing Higginbotham back in action for the senior side sooner rather than later, the former Manchester United academy product is refusing to set a time on when he'll be back in action for Tony Pulis' side.
"There isn't a timeline on when I will be back in the first team, but I am just looking forward now and working towards making my return."
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