Perth Glory defender Tomislav Mrcela hopes his days of being a frustrated spectator are behind him after making a successful A-League return last week.
Mrcela has endured a disheartening run of injuries over the past year.
The 29-year-old was restricted to just one game after round 13 last season because of an ongoing quad injury, and he missed the first eight rounds of this season after suffering a hamstring tear just weeks before round one.
Mrcela enjoyed a dream return to action last Friday night, helping Glory keep a clean sheet and also scoring a late goal to seal a 3-0 win over Melbourne City.
The 193cm centre back said his run of bad luck with injuries had tested his mettle.
"It was hard and it puts you down a little bit, but you need to stay strong mentally," Mrcela said.
"That's life, and there's no player in the world that has gone through their career without injury.
"Hopefully this year there won't be any more setbacks and I can show what I'm capable of."
Mrcela made it back in time for last season's finals campaign.
But with the team playing so well he wasn't needed, meaning he had to watch on from the stands as Glory went down to Sydney FC on penalties in the grand final.
Next time, he wants to be on the pitch in the thick of the action.
"Of course I don't want that feeling I had in the grand final," Mrcela said.
"You want to play in front of your family and in front of 60,000 people.
"Hopefully we can get another chance this year and I'll be part of the team, be on the field on and not in the stands."
Glory were bottom of the ladder before last round, but their win over City has catapulted them into seventh spot.
Perth will be aiming to make it two wins on the trot when they host the Wanderers at HBF Park on Saturday night.
Australian Associated Press