Dundee United star Mark Connolly has been through the wars in his career as he has battled back from SEVEN major injuries.
Connolly, 29, has broken his collar bone twice, damaged his medial collateral ligament, and suffered a broken metatarsal.
He has also undergone hip and hernia operations.
Now he’s back on the comeback trail again after a four-month lay-off – after damaging his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in a 2-2 draw with Motherwell in May.
The former Republic of Ireland under-21 star made a 12-minute substitute appearance in United’s 0-0 weekend draw with St Mirren as he replaced the injured Ryan Edwards.
That could put him in line for a start in Sunday’s Dundee derby in Edwards’ place
And Connolly believes he is ‘fitter and stronger’ than ever before.
“There have been quite a few injuries in my career and they’ve always been quite bad ones,” said Connolly.
“I’ve broken two collar bones. I’ve had a hip operation, MCL right knee, hernia operations, a broken metatarsal.
“It’s the nature of the job because of the position I play in. It’s something I have to get on with.
“Thankfully, I deal with it well.
“I’ve always taken a step back, reassess and go again.
“I’m so used to playing week in, week out and suddenly you are out. That puts you back to square one.
“Mentally, as years go on I’ve got stronger and stronger.”
Mark Connolly praises Dundee United sport science team as he targets derby role
Connolly has praised the role played by Dundee United’s sports science department in helping him recover a month ahead of schedule.
That has put him in line for a derby day appearance, should Edwards fail to recover in time.
“I’ve come back a better player and better person.
“When you have your first few injuries you get a wee bit worried and concerned but now I can’t worry.
“I’ve got a wife and two kids. I need to come back fitter and stronger and make sure I’m back on the pitch playing, working hard at my job.
“When I was first injured we thought it was a rupture of my PCL. Thankfully it was only partial tear.
“I’m back a bit earlier but the whole sports science team at Dundee United have been outstanding with me.
“I feel really fit. I’m stronger than I was before and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
“I don’t know what the situation is with Ryan. I’m hoping it’s not too bad.
“If I’m needed for the derby I’ll be ready. If it’s the bench, I’ll do what’s required.”