Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has admitted he made a mistake in trying to play through the pain of an Achilles injury.
The former Tottenham and West Ham man has recently returned to action following six weeks on the sidelines after an injection in the troublesome tendon.
Carrick has gone on to appear in six successive fixtures, including the five straight victories which have kept the Red Devils in touch with Premier League leaders Chelsea and on course for the UEFA Champions League knockout phase.
After fading during the closing weeks of last season and failing to feature during England's miserable World Cup campaign, Carrick made a slow start to the current campaign, which prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to take action.
"I should have got something done about my Achilles sooner because I was carrying it for a while," Carrick admitted.
"It is easier to say that now I have got rid of it because I feel great.
"But it is probably only how I feel now that I realise how bad it was. I feel good now and am happy with my game."
Carrick accepts that he was below his best when hampered by the injury and could understand why he was being left on the sidelines by Ferguson before undergoing treatment.
"I didn't think I had to answer any critics," he added. "The only opinions that count are those of the manager and the staff.
"You just have to brush aside the rest of it and believe in yourself.
"I know when I am not playing well. I wasn't hitting my best form so I couldn't argue about the teams the manager was picking.
"I am not big enough to be saying I should be playing every game, so it was up to me to play well again.
"You have to stay positive. I knew things would come good and I am enjoying my football again now."