Aberdeen striker Stevie May is confident his return from injury is permanent after a previous comeback stalled.
The £400,000 summer signing has started the last three games having fought back to fitness after more than two months of injury frustration.
May sustained an ankle injury in a shocking challenge from former Dons skipper Ryan Jack in the 2-1 loss to Rangers at Pittodrie on December 3.
Former Preston North End centre-forward May missed nine games following that challenge.
There were two comeback attempts but the injury continued to flare up, ruling the striker out of action.
May missed the first game after the loss at Pittodrie but returned for the next two.
However, the ankle injury continued to trouble him and the striker was ruled out for the remaining matches before the Premiership winter break.
During the warm weather training camp in Dubai the 25-year-old worked with the club’s physios and sports science staff on his rehab.
He returned as a late substitute in the first fixture after the break, a 4-1 Scottish Cup win over St Mirren.
May admits that comeback was too soon as he then missed the next five games.
Now he is back, fully fit and determined to rediscover the scoring form that made him one of Scotland’s hottest talents.
May, who is set to face Partick Thistle away tomorrow, said: “I am back and raring to go.
“I had a problem with my ankle as it was flaring up.
“It was sore for a couple of games after I picked up the injury but I thought I could have played through it.
“Then it got worse.
“I had a scan on it and had to give it a few weeks to recover, so now I am ready to go again.”
May came on for the final 11 minutes of the cup tie against St Mirren, but then missed the next five games.
Was that return too early?
“Yes,” he said. “The pitch was quite soft that day which wasn’t great for the stability.
“It was one of those where I tried to get back as quickly as possible but maybe it was just a little bit too early.
“Now it is great to be back and get some games under my belt.”
May returned to Scotland last summer following three seasons in England. In 2014 moved from St Johnstone to Sheffield Wednesday for £800,000 on a four-year deal.
It concluded a season where May had netted 27 goals for Saints and played a pivotal role in the Perth side lifting the Scottish Cup – having netted twice in the 2-1 semi-final defeat of Aberdeen.
He aims to rediscover that level of form for the Dons.
He said: “I want to reach that stage again.
“I try to score every time I play and I always just take it one game at a time.
“That cup win with St Johnstone was the icing on the cake to that season and I want to get back to the Scottish Cup final this season.
“When you get that feeling of winning a cup you want more of it.
“It is something that pushes you on to do it again.
“Kilmarnock (replay at Rugby Park on Tuesday) is the next step for that. That is as far as we can look for now.”
May’s spell in the English Championship was rocked by a serious knee injury while at Preston that ruled him out for 15 months. He returned to action last February.
Was there any concern about the ankle injury being long-term?
“We got it scanned and waited until that came back before we made any decision – so not really,” he said.
May’s form in his first season down south was rewarded with a debut Scotland cap – in the 3-1 loss to England at Parkhead in November 2014.
Scotland manager Alex McLeish names his squad on Monday for the friendly matches against Costa Rica and Hungary.
Ultimately, May wants to force his way back into international recognition but accepts it will take regular football and goals to do that.
The last of his four goals for the Reds was in the 3-1 defeat of Kilmarnock on November 26.
He said: “Everyone in football would say playing for their country is something they want to do.
“Obviously I need to get back playing and scoring goals again and then see what can happen.
“But at the moment my full focus is on Aberdeen, playing as many games as possible and trying to get back into the team.”