Brian Easton will be careful not to rush his latest comeback from injury as the St Johnstone defender seeks to put a season of “torture” behind him.
Most of the Saints squad return for pre-season training on Monday but the left-back has cut short his holidays to get back to work early.
“I have been in most of the summer,” said Easton, who only made 15 appearances in a campaign that was more stop than start.
“Normally that wouldn’t be great but after all the frustrations and disappointments of last season I’m not complaining.
“I just want to get back playing as quickly as possible. It’s feeling good now but I still have a wee bit to go.
“It was the most frustrating season of my career without a doubt. There have been times when I was injured or wasn’t getting as much game time as I’d have wanted at clubs. But that was torture.
“If you had told me at the start I would be out for seven or eight months it would have been gutting but I’d have got my head round it.
“But we couldn’t put a finger on the problem and it dragged on and on until I got my second operation towards the end of the season.
“The surgeon didn’t know the extent of the problem until he went in. When he said the groins were in pretty bad shape I was actually relieved to hear that. At least it meant he was able to deal with the issue that had plagued me all season and it wasn’t in my head.”
Easton added: “We are pretty much on schedule after the op. He warned I would feel discomfort getting back into it and I will probably be eased into training with the lads.
“If it was up to me I’d be straight back at it but we have to be careful after last year was a write-off.
“I had a hernia operation to start with and then went to Leicester for groin release treatment. There was a lot of scar tissue to be removed. It is similar to what Lee Wallace at Rangers has had.”
When Easton is available for selection, Scott Tanser will be standing in the way of an instant recall to the starting line-up.
“Scott has settled in well here,” said the former Dundee and Hamilton man. “He has all the attributes.
“When I first came out of the team I thought he would stake a claim. But I’ve never taken my place for granted here or felt I can afford to slack off. It will help both of us when I get back. It will be a good challenge.”
Easton doesn’t think there is much that needs to be put right in pre-season.
“I spent a lot of time watching from the stand last season and at times it was frustrating to watch,” he said.
“But we had a lot of injuries which prevented us having a settled side. It might have been down to having just three weeks off last summer for Europe, I don’t know.
“If we can tweak little things here and there it will click back into place.
“For the majority of games we were decent. But we lost cheap goals and didn’t turn chances into goals. The goals columns for and against pretty much summed-up why we didn’t finish as high up the table as usual.”
At 30, Easton will be one of the senior pros in a McDiarmid dressing room that will be younger than in previous years.
He said: “I still feel like a big kid myself but with Midge, big Al and Macca away I’m one of the senior pros now.
“I’m definitely one of the more experienced players in the squad.
“It will be a bit strange but I’m looking forward to it. We have a good bunch of younger players here and it’s exciting to think I can help them along in their careers. I am looking forward to the extra responsibility.”