After spending almost all of 2018 on the sidelines Peterhead’s Nicky Riley insists the new year can only get better.
The midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in a game against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park on January 30.
After getting his operation in April it has been a long road back to fitness for the former Dundee player.
Riley still expects it to be another three or four months before he kicks a ball again.
But he says getting back on the pitch for the Blue Toon would make 2019 great.
He said: “I have still been going to training and going to the games, but there is nothing worse than watching everyone training or going to play games.
“You don’t realise how much you miss it until it’s taken away from you.
“I can’t wait to get back, even if it’s just at training to feel involved again with the boys.
“You miss that side of it and even if you are on the bench you feel a lot more involved and feel like you are contributing.
“Hopefully I can start to push on, but they don’t want to put a timeframe on it because it means you can end up chasing a date that you are not able to reach.
“It’s good to have an aim, but you don’t want it to be too unrealistic that you end up pushing yourself and something goes wrong.
“So hopefully I will see a big change in the weeks ahead.
“I’ve been out for almost the whole year and I’ve not really been able to be that active.
“I waited a bit for the operation and then after I got the operation I wasn’t able to do much kind of activity.
“But even then it’s football you miss the most, especially when you are going to the games.
“So even if I can start going out running, kicking a ball, dribbling that will be good.
“Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can start doing that.
“Hopefully 2019 will be a better year on the football front – it can’t really get any worse anyway!”
There is light at the end of the tunnel, with the next phase of Riley’s rehabilitation away to start.
He added: “It’s a lot better now and I am seeing a lot more progress.
“I met up with a physio in Edinburgh just before Christmas.
“He works with our club physio Greig Smith and he was happy with my progress and the strength I am getting back in my knee.
“He is making me a new programme which should be for the next three to four months.
“This is the programme to try to stabilise the knee so you can twist and turn and get back playing football. I have built up the strength and this is the next phase.
“It has been a long and tiresome process, there are times when you think ‘it should be better than this.’
“But the physio I saw told me I was on the right track and he has given me confidence.
“Hopefully this is going to be the last phase and then I can start kicking on and getting involved in training.
“It has been long and hard but I’m hoping in 2019 I will see a big improvement.”