Liam Donnelly will join thousands of Motherwell and Hibernian fans in returning to top-flight action as the Fir Park midfielder prepares to make his league comeback this weekend.
The Northern Ireland international suffered a knee injury during last season’s Scottish Premiership opener against Ross County and a damaged meniscus kept him out far longer than anticipated.
Donnelly is set to feature in front of up to 6,500 fans when Hibs visit Lanarkshire on Sunday.
“The first league game was the last game I played last season so I am definitely looking forward to it,” the 25-year-old said.
“The injury was difficult, a couple of setbacks and different time scales along the way. It was challenging more mentally than anything to keep yourself going.
“The initial time scale was two to three months then it went to five months, seven months, and it was pushing 12 months in the end.
“But I have got here in the end and I am looking forward to getting going again.
“I didn’t actually experience Fir Park without the fans but watching from the stand they were a big miss so it will be exciting to have a few more here on Sunday.”
Donnelly was eased back into action in the Premier Sports Cup group stage, culminating in a 90-minute display against Annan last weekend.
“It was nice to be back out on the pitch with the boys again,” he said. “I had to use them to build up fitness to be ready for Sunday.
“I still have to manage myself and make sure I’m not doing too much. The staff have been good with me and making sure my load hasn’t been too much.
“But I have still got the right amount of work in me to make sure I am 100 per cent for Sunday.
“I still need to get my match fitness and sharpness back to where it was.”
Donnelly was a key player two seasons ago but now finds himself needing to win over Graham Alexander, who was appointed in January.
“It’s like a fresh slate, I have to go out and impress him every day in training and every game I am involved in,” he said. “It’s a strange situation but I still have to prove myself to him.”
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