New boy Kieran Freeman says he appreciates having the opportunity to play for Peterhead this season after injuries threatened to derail his career.
The full-back has joined the Blue Toon on a season-long loan from Dundee United.
The 20-year-old rejoined the Tangerines in January having left Tannadice in the summer of 2016 to move to English Premier League side Southampton.
However, Freeman’s time with the Saints was blighted by injuries and he required three operations following cruciate ligament and meniscus injuries.
Reflecting on that period, the Inverbervie native said: “I was 16 at the time and I was offered a three-year deal, so I thought ‘why not go for it?’
“You never know if something like that will happen again in your life. I enjoyed my time down at Southampton and met some good people.
“I did my anterior cruciate ligament and then my meniscus in both knees. So I was out for about a year with the first injury and then came back for about two months and was playing and then did the other knee, so I was out for another year.
“I was probably out for about two-and-a-half of the three-and-half years I was there.
“I just couldn’t get a run of games. I was playing well and starting to get a run before the second injury, so that was tough mentally.
“So I’m happy to be fit again and really pleased to be able to play for Peterhead, because as well as being good for my football development it will be good for me mentally.
“You take everything for granted until injuries like that happen and think it just happens for you.
“Now I just enjoy being able to train and play every week after the injuries I’ve had.”
As a teenager a long way from home, Freeman admits spending so long on the sidelines at Southampton was mentally challenging.
But even the smallest of steps in his recovery kept his spirits up.
Freeman added: “Luckily I lived with a family down in Southampton which helped a lot because I wasn’t on my own.
“My family also came down to visit a lot and when you’re in a situation like that you have to embrace it.
“I would take enjoyment out of being able to walk again or being able to bend my knee a certain amount.
“You have to take the positives out because I couldn’t change what had happened, so I needed to make the best of the situation.”
Freeman has already made three appearances for Dundee United prior to completing his loan to Peterhead last week.
He aims to play regularly in League One this season in a bid to help his develop and is set to face Junior club Dundee North End in the Blue Toon’s final pre-season friendly this afternoon.
He said: “I’m delighted to get the loan done because I want to be somewhere where I can play every weekend and learn at a first-team level this season.
“The big thing for me is to work to get my place in the Peterhead team and keep it.
“If I can do that then I think I will develop and learn a lot under a good manager in Jim McInally.”