Swansea City defender Chico Flores is delighted to be back in action, having missed the majority of pre-season.
The Spaniard has suffered with a thigh injury through much of the close-season and was also given compassionate leave following the death of his father.
However, the 26-year-old played 90 minutes for the first time since the end of last term in the Welsh side’s 0-0 draw with Malmo on Thursday, which saw them through to the UEFA Europa League play-offs.
And after a strong showing in the heart of the defence, Chico is keen to forget a tough few months and hit top form for his club.
“It has been a difficult time for me of late after losing my father and then getting injured,” he told WalesOnline.
“I’m a young man, but I’m strong.
“My concentration is now on my football and training and playing has helped me. It has given me a focus.
“It has been a tough month, but life will eventually go back to normal.”
Chico was a key figure in Michael Laudrup’s plans last season, making 32 appearances in all competitions.
The Welsh club have conceded just once in their pre-season fixtures, and the defender is delighted with the momentum his side have built ahead of their season opener against Premier League champions Manchester United next week.
“It has been a frustrating time for me with the injury, but now I’m better,” he added. “My thigh troubled me for a couple of weeks, but I feel very good.
“I hope to keep building up my match fitness and it was good to be back playing in Malmo.
“I enjoyed the game and we are through to the next round of the Europa League and that is good for us. But just as important was not to concede because we knew it would be good to keep getting clean sheets before facing Manchester United.”