Sheffield Wednesday starÂ Sam Winnall opens up on his eight-month injury woe
It was a "demoralising" and "mentally challenging" experience for Sam Winnall not being able to do the job he loves for eight months.
The Owls striker spent a lengthy period on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee ligament injury while on loan at Derby County last February.
But after going through months of painstaking rehabilitation, Winnall made his comeback in Wednesday development squad's victory over Crewe Alexandra last Friday. The 27-year-old marked his return to action with a goal, coolly turning in Jack Stobbs' fine cross.
Winnall played the first half. It was a big step forward in his quest to regain full fitness.
Opening up to The Star on the trials and tribulations of coping with a major injury, Winnall said: "As you can imagine, it has been very hard.
"You go in every day (to training) and you don't feel 100 per cent. When you can't do your job that you have grown up doing since you were five, it is obviously demoralising, especially when you look out the window and see the guys training. It can be hard and mentally challenging.
"But I stayed strong and I had a good support base around me with my family and friends. Everyone at the football club has been supportive as well.
"Considering it has been a long eight months, I have had a lot of help a long the way and thankfully I can repay those people who have helped me a long the way by scoring goals and hopefully helping this football club."
It is fair to say Winnall is always a reluctant spectator.
"I'm not very good at watching football," he said. "You kick every ball and you get involved in every tackle. You are always thinking 'what would I have done there' and stuff like that.
"It can be quite difficult being a spectator but that is part and parcel of when you are injured. You have got no other option.
"I knew when I did the injury it was not going to be a short-term injury. It was going to be a long one but thankfully now it is coming to the end of it and I'm starting to feel as if I can get back on the pitch sooner rather than later."
He is eternally grateful to the support he received from his friends and family through the "tough times".
Winnall said: "They are always the people you can turn to in the tough times.
"My family have been brilliant with me. You depend on them in these tough times and thankfully my family and friends have been great.
"Hopefully I can repay them with goals and give them something to be proud of."