Mikey Devlin missed out on the League Cup final and an international debut due to injury and says his misfortune only motivates him to reach those heights again.
The centre-back could return to the Aberdeen team for tomorrow’s Scottish Cup fifth-round tie with Queen of the South at Pittodrie.
Devlin injured an ankle during a training session with Scotland in mid-November.
Initially it was hoped he would be available for the Reds’ League Cup final with Celtic on December 2.
On top of missing the Hampden showpiece the 25-year-old also missed potentially making his international debut in Scotland’s UEFA Nations League matches against Albania and Israel.
He hasn’t played for Aberdeen since a 1-0 home win over Hibs on November 9.
Although frustrating to be out Devlin admits the pain of missing recent big occasions only motivates him to try to reach further cup finals and return to the international set-up.
He said: “It was disappointing and very frustrating and when you’ve been out for a long time you don’t want to miss any games.
“Under normal circumstances being out in December you would have missed four games, but the way our fixtures ended up I missed nine games.
“It crept into January and I’d also missed some games in November.
“It was very frustrating and although there were Scotland games and a cup final in that run, I want to be available for every game.
“Whether or not you play is out of my hands but you want to make yourself available to get picked. But I’m delighted to be back now.
“An ambition for any player is to be involved in the biggest games and biggest occasions.
“Cup finals and international games are as big as it gets and we expect to be there.
“We expect and want to be in cup finals competing for silverware.
“Hopefully that opportunity will come again and if it does I’ll try to be ready and try to be fit for when that comes.”
After missing the whole of last season due to a cruciate ligament injury sustained with former club Hamilton, Devlin could have been downbeat about being out again.
However, he says he tried to remain upbeat and revealed team-mate and housemate Scott McKenna helped him stay positive.
Devlin added: “We hoped the injury would only be a couple of weeks so I wasn’t really too downbeat.
“But it’s become a bit of a standing joke because we thought I would only be out for a few weeks.
“So every time somebody asked me I was saying ‘it’ll be two weeks’ and nine or 10 weeks down the line here we are.
“There was an optimism about the injury that it would only be 10-14 days.
“Unfortunately it didn’t quite go that way as we hoped.
“I’m back fighting fit now and ready to play when needed.
“I just rolled my ankle slightly in one of the training sessions with Scotland in November.
“I went to see a specialist and he said there was a chance for the cup final but it just wasn’t ready for the cup final.
“Since then we’ve had to try to manage it. I had a couple of setbacks in the rehab and it took longer than we’d hoped.
“Fortunately I’m here now feeling strong and fit.
“Scott was brilliant throughout my injury, just with little things like going for a coffee or whatever it may be.
“Scott was great at keeping my mind off it and from a mate point of view it would have been selfish of me to be very down and negative.
“Scott still had important games to play in and I saw it as my job as his pal to be positive around him and keep his focus on the games.
“It wouldn’t have been fair for me to mope around and be negative and suck the energy out of him.
“So we helped each other and got through December which was a tough month. It was fantastic to have him.”
Aberdeen are looking to respond to Wednesday’s home defeat to Rangers against Queen of the South in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup fifth-round tie.
If he plays, Devlin will be up against Doonhamers striker Stephen Dobbie who has plundered 37 goals already this season.
Devlin said: “It’s going to be a tough game and we’re under no illusions about that.
“They’ve got one of the best scorers in British football right now so coming up against that is a tough task.
“We’ll do our analysis on how they play and after Rangers on Wednesday we need to quickly turn our focus to this.
“We know Stephen Dobbie will be a handful and we’ll be up against a hard-working Queens team.
“For whoever plays it will be tough against Dobbie.
“He’s had a great career and even now he is still banging in goals.
“We accept it will be a difficult challenge for whoever is playing against him.
“It’s massive for us to get to the latter stages of cup competitions.
“But we need to take it one step at a time. Queen of the South is the next game and we have to do everything we can to progress to the next round of the cup.”