Mansfield Town defender Hayden White has spoken of the mental suffering he went through while nursing his broken ankle last season.
But he is on course to be fit again for the start of a new season in which he hopes the pain of missing out at the death last year will inspire the squad to finally achieve promotion.
White suffered his injury away at Colchester on 19th January and his season was over. Then the feeling of depression soon set in.
“Family were massive in helping me,” he said.
“I have a very close-knit family – and I’ve just had my daughter as well. I think they were all sick of me after two months of being at home, but they did help me get through it.
“And the physio staff here have been fantastic.
“It is a difficult injury to take and there are a lot of mental things you have to go through to actually get over it. A lot of people don’t understand how hard it can be.
“But I am over it now and a big shout-out to Lizzie (Read, first team sports therapist), Beth (Wilcockson, sports scientist), DT (Daryl Taylor, fitness coach) and Tom (Whittamore, head physio) as, without them, I don’t think I’d be here now.
“It’s very draining mentally. I know it sounds a bit morbid, but you go through a state of, maybe, depression, when we get injured.
“You don’t know which way to turn as all most of us know is football. It is quite difficult. But I am now ready and raring to go.”
He added: “I was a bit apprehensive, wondering how I was going to be when I was back into training.
“But it’s been fine. I think when you are actually out there you don’t have time to think about it. Fingers crossed it’s all good now.”
White is hoping to be ready for the big kick-off.
“I’ve been in full sessions with all the boys and completed them, so I am holding up well and hopefully it continues,” he smiled.
“I wouldn’t say I am fit at the moment. I’m in the process of getting there.
“It is scheduled in for me to be firing and ready to go from day one of the season, so as long as we stay on course, I will be out there and ready.”
White knows playing Newport, who beat them in the play-off semi-finals in the final game of last season, is a quick chance for revenge.
“After being out for so long I am looking forward to the opening game against Newport. And with the way last season ended I think it’s the best possible way for us to start,” he said.
White knows Stags face big competition at the top end this season, but is confident they can slug it out with the best League Two has to offer this season.
“A few teams have made some good signings,” he said.
“Obviously Plymouth have taken advantage of certain situations, as have Bradford. But, as long as we are up there, I couldn’t care less who is up there with us.
“A good few teams have come down and Salford have come up too, so it’s going to be interesting.
“Ever since I have been here the task has been to get promoted and we have gone one better each season. Hopefully this is the season where it gets done.
“We’ve got the pain of last season to push us on. If that doesn’t push us on then nothing will.”
White will always be left wondering if Mansfield might have gone up had he stayed fit and in the fine form he was showing.
“It’s a difficult one,” he admitted. “Football is a funny, funny game. So I can’t say the results would have been different if I had still been in the team.
“Obviously I would to think I’d have made a bit of an impact, but it could have gone any way. Ultimately it was just unfortunate the way it finished.”
Also, since then Stags have changed manager with David Flitcroft paying the price for the promotion failure and John Dempster taking over.
“A lot of things are different now,” he said. “Every manager has their different type of playing styles and type of management. “Training has been a bit different and he’s been good with all of the boys. Everyone has taken to him.
“We’ve had a few one on one conversations and got on very well. I am looking forward to working with him.”