Jose Baxter has revealed his determination to fire Sheffield United to promotion - after the club stood by him following his drugs ban.
Baxter, the former Everton and Oldham midfielder, admits he was in a “dark place” following his five-month suspension, after traces of ecstacy were discovered in his system after a test in May.
Baxter - who served just under half of that ban, with the rest suspended - maintained his innocence throughout, insisting his drink was spiked on a night out. He was supported by United throughout, with boss Nigel Adkins personally attending his hearing at Wembley - and now, the 23-year-old wants to repay the faith by helping them to promotion.
“It was a tough few months,” Baxter admitted to BBC Radio Sheffield.
“I was in a dark place, but I’m happy now I’m back playing. It has been a sticky few months, but I’m glad to see the back of it.
“The gaffer, the whole club and the fans have supported me and I’m grateful for it. Hopefully I can pay them back and get promotion this year.
“It makes me want to make them proud and show them what I’m about. I’m working so hard every day and I’m just happy to be back playing.”
Baxter’s season was further interrupted when he was sent off in United’s Capital One Cup defeat at Fulham, but he was recalled to face Colchester a week ago and came off the bench at Bradford on Sunday, helping secure a point after Adkins’ side had fallen 2-0 behind.
“People are saying we’ve not had the best of starts but we are still around the play-offs and we haven’t played that well,” Baxter said.
“As soon as we know each other’s game a bit more, we will climb up that ladder.”