Barry Roche admits he wasn’t sure he would ever return to full fitness.
Morecambe’s number one since 2008, the popular Irishman suffered his first serious injury when he underwent surgery on a hip problem last October.
Now he is back though and has played a full part in a positive pre-season campaign.
The 33-year-old, one of six goalkeepers used by boss Jim Bentley last season, said: “It feels great.
“There’s no problem with the hip and to be honest I’m absolutely delighted to be back.
“It was a long, long time without playing a game since the op and there were doubts I would ever get back to full fitness.
“But I’ve done a full pre-season now and I couldn’t be happier.”
The former Nottingham Forest and Chesterfield ‘keeper made a good recovery last season only to suffer a setback after being an unused sub against eventual champions Burton in April.
It all meant however that he was ultimately ready to go on day one of pre-season. Roche said: “I had a little bit of a downer at the end of the season.
“I got on the bench for the Burton game and for me that was brilliant and then it flared up a little bit which was disappointing.
“Then the extra couple of weeks at the end of the season did me good and just to be back training properly with the lads from day one of pre-season was a big thing for me.”
Roche goes as far to admit that having an extra year on his current deal was also a weight off his mind as he came back from surgery knowing he had time on his side.
He said: “From my point of view luckily I had another year left on my contract.
“If I didn’t have another year things could have been an awful lot different.”
The big stopper returns to what he believes is one of the strongest squads he has seen during his time at the club.
More than anything Roche is encouraged by the added bite that boss Jim Bentley has added to the squad.
He said: “We’ve made some great acquisitions.
“It’s one of the strongest squads we’ve had in my time here certainly.
“That’s been shown in pre-season with some good results, some very, very good performances and we’ve had a little bit of nastiness as well which maybe we’ve been lacking in recent years.”
An improved squad means the play-offs are the target for everyone connected with the club.
Roche said: “Without wanting to sound too positive we’ve got to be aiming for the play-offs and to improve on last season’s finish.
“We were 11th last season and we have made improvements to the squad so there’s no reason why we can’t go that little bit further.”