Danny Mullen is determined to prove he can cut it at the highest level in Scottish football.
The 26-year-old helped St Mirren to promotion from the Championship in 2018 but was unable to hold down a regular place in the top-flight.
He eventually moved on to Dens Park with aims of getting another shot at the Premiership.
After scoring in the play-off final win at Kilmarnock in May, Mullen had that next chance.
This time injury got in the way just 17 minutes into the new season. Then came surgery and the unfamiliar feeling of learning to walk again after six weeks in a protective boot.
‘It was gutting because of the shape I was in’
Mullen recalled: “I came back flying. We didn’t have a long break after last season.
“Then about 17 minutes into the season I went up for a header, came down and landed on the defender’s foot.
“I felt it straight away and I didn’t want to stand up.
“I just shook my head. I’d done my other ankle in the past and I knew it wasn’t right.
“I’d tore my ligaments and needed an operation.
“It was gutting because of the shape I was in.
“I was raring to go for the season. I felt good for the first 10 minutes!
“Unfortunately that then happened but I’m back to full fitness now.”
Defying the timetable
After going under the knife, it was initially expected Mullen would be out of action until December.
However, he defied that timetable and is delighted to be back after coming off the bench in last week’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen.
“I was two weeks from doing it to get surgery and then there were two weeks in the boot, in crutches, after that,” Mullen added.
“Then another two weeks in the boot.
“After that I had to get used to walking again on it so it was a long slog. It took a little time to get used to the movements again and I had to build my calf up because the muscle went quite quickly.
“I’m still doing calf work to protect my ankle.
“There were some long days in that gym with Gerry Docherty (physio). He’s been brilliant and kept me going through the tough days.
“That paid off because I’m back earlier than expected.
“The surgeon said it’s even stronger than before.
“It’s one of those things that makes you stronger as a person.
“And when you’re back you try to make the most of it.”
‘I want to prove I can do better’
That’s his target for the rest of the campaign, starting today at Hearts.
He netted eight goals last term for the Dark Blues, the last of those helping the club back into the top flight at Rugby Park.
Now he plans to prove himself in the top flight.
“I’ve been wanting to show people what I can do in the Premiership,” he said.
“Here’s hoping now I’m fit I can do that.
“All I can do is work hard in training and try to get back in the team.
“It was good to get back last week, though it was only 20 minutes.
“Last season was good but I want to go and prove I can do better this season.”