Steven Pienaar is determined to win back a place in the Tottenham Hotspur first team after declaring that his injury "nightmare" is finally over.
Tottenham beat competition from Chelsea to sign Pienaar from Everton in January, but he has only been able to make 12 appearances due to several injury problems.
The South Africa international midfielder suffered concussion while clashing heads with team-mate Bongani Khumalo in February and endured a niggling groin problem towards the end of last season.
The problem flared up again in Spurs' final pre-season game against Athletic Bilbao and the 29-year-old had to undergo surgery as a result that ruled him out until mid-September.
Pienaar suffered further heartache in his rehabilitation, enduring two setbacks that have kept him out ever since.
However, the former Ajax midfielder now claims that he is fully fit and ready to prove to the Spurs management that he deserves a place in the club's first XI, starting with Thursday night's Europa League clash against Rubin Kazan in Russia.
"It's been the most difficult period of my career," he said.
"When you join a new team, you want to start fully fit but I got injured quite early and it slowed down my progress.
"Before the operation we thought we would wait and see how the groin injury developed but it just got worse.
"I had the operation, things were going well, but then I had two setbacks. Sometimes when you try to get back early, that happens.
"But I'm over the nightmare now so hopefully I can get some minutes."
"When you get injured, you fall down the pecking order," he added. "You are basically the bottom of the pile.
"But you have to make sure you get fit, be patient and work hard.
"I have been working hard and now I'll try to win a place in the team."