Western Bulldogs forward Shaun Higgins always thought he would be back, despite a foot injury that had the potential to derail his AFL career.
The 25-year-old will play his first game since round three last season when the Bulldogs take on Fremantle on Wednesday night in a pre-season match at Etihad Stadium.
Higgins has had a bad run with injuries in his AFL career and this latest setback was a fracture of the navicular bone in his left foot.
While it is a serious football injury, Higgins said he was confident from the outset that he would recover.
"I had a really good surgeon look after it," he said.
"We got onto it straight away and put a great program in place.
"We took our time and made sure it healed correctly ... I've had a really good build up.
"I didn't have a hiccup, so it was great."
Fellow forward Tom Williams, another Bulldog who has been injury-prone, will also return against the Dockers.
Higgins reckons he will play about a half of the game.
Coach Brendan McCartney revealed last month that Higgins could spend more time up the ground.
Higgins has made his name as a half-forward and it is in attack where the 'Dogs have the biggest scope for improvement.
They recruited Stewart Crameri from Essendon and will also hope Williams can give them more strength in front of goals.
"It's looking promising - we have some big, young key forwards who we've had for a while," Higgins said.
"Stew (Crameri) is just going to complement them nicely.
"We've worked a bit on our ball movement and all that combined, hopefully puts more goals on the scoreboard."
While last year was a disaster for Higgins' playing career, he was able to watch his team show strong signs of improvement.
"It's always exciting when young guys come in and learn a different way to play," he said.
"It holds no guarantees for us this year, but we're excited that we're on the right track and we'll continue to build on (that)."