Craig Bryson admits his first year at Pittodrie didn’t go to plan, but the Aberdeen midfielder is hopeful his injury problems are behind him.
The 33-year-old scored for the first time in a Dons shirt during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Hibernian in a behind closed doors friendly at Pittodrie.
An ankle injury restricted the former Derby County midfielder to only five league starts last season and 12 appearances overall.
But Bryson is feeling positive ahead of this Saturday’s Scottish Premiership curtain-raiser against Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.
He said: “It has been quite well documented that I have had a tough time since I first came to the club with an ankle injury.
“It has been a long time and probably the hardest time in my career.
“I have been trying to get back fit. You try everything you can and you get to a stage where you are not sure what is going to work.
“Finally, we have found a routine that is working for me.
“I have done a lot of pre-season and I am starting to feel like myself again.
“I’m going into games like on Saturday worrying about football rather than worrying about my body.”
Bryson hopes his goalscoring contribution against Hibernian bodes well for the start of the season, but admits playing without fans will take time to get used to.
He added: “I wish I had saved the goal for this Saturday, rather than it being in pre-season.
“Fingers crossed it is a taster for the season starting.
“The atmosphere is strange, even in the changing room you only have the starting 11.
“It is weird, but we have had a couple of games to get used to it.”