Dunfermline defender Rhys Breen admits his protracted stint on the sidelines has been one of the toughest periods of his career.
The former Rangers youngster, who was forced to complete a period of isolation following his arrival from Orange County in the U.S., has not had his troubles to seek.
Breen then contracted Covid and, once he shook off the virus, several members of his family picked it up — forcing him into another period of personal lockdown.
“It was one of the toughest spells in my career,” said Breen. “I was bugging everybody in my house; desperate to go out running!
“I ended up getting injured and was out for two weeks.
“Then the Covid situation happened and I was out for a month with that because, when my isolation ended, my family got it.
“Luckily, all my family had very minor symptoms — cough and fevers — and we kept well.
“But the second I got out the house for a simple jog, I couldn’t stop smiling!”
‘Why am I not as strong as I was?’
As a result, Breen’s five-minute cameo in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Kilmarnock represented a long-awaited full debut for the Fifers.
It was a reward for weeks of hard graft getting himself back up to pre-season levels of fitness.
“I kept forgetting the situation when I got back — questioning why I was unfit,” continued Breen. “Why am I not as strong as I was?
“It didn’t feel like my touch was there.
“It was just mental toughness needed to get through it. Once I jumped over that little barrier, I was absolutely fine.
“Now, I’m back with the boys and doing what I love; it feels like it didn’t even happen!”
Breen’s positivity is infectious, declaring that he ‘has a good feeling’ that Dunfermline’s first league win of the season will come against Partick Thistle on Saturday.
However, he is far from ignorant of the threats posed by the Jags, given he spent a period on loan with the club in 2020/21.
Moreover, he remains close pals with former Rangers teammate Zak Rudden.
“I will be giving Zak a message before the game, just telling him to keep an eye out for me,” laughed Breen
“No, I am glad that Zak is doing well for himself but I have to make sure that he does not get near that goal.”
Meanwhile, Breen is adamant the Dunfermline squad are united in their support for boss Peter Grant.
Speaking prior to the club announcing the departure of Paul Watson ‘by mutual consent’, he added: “Every single person is pulling their weight — and, without a doubt, that is happening for the manager.
“Every player is trying to give him our trust and do everything we can for him.”