An inner ear problem that affected his balance has been troubling the central defender since pre-season and there was a recent scare for the 30-year-old when a scan showed an abnormality that sparked fears of a tumour.
The likelihood of this has been determined by specialists to be absolutely minimal and Deano duly returned to action on Monday after a good spell of training with Clive Allen's group.
"I've played 90 minutes and, at the moment, I'm just pleased to be back on the pitch," reflected Dean on being asked for a progress report. "There was a time when that was possibly going to be doubtful, so I am pleased to get the game under my belt. I am in no rush and I will take it from here."
Previously the balance problems surfaced following headers - a big part of Dean's game. This was certainly tested at Stevenage with Fulham keeper Dave Beasant massive clearances dropping out of the sky at regular intervals.
"Before, if I headed the ball straight and caught it clean I didn't seem to have a problem," he added of his difficulty earlier in the season. "It is all to do with my balance mechanism, I had a problem sometimes when I caught a couple wrong.
"Like I said, I am going to take each day as it comes, I am pleased to be playing and I'll see how it goes.
"I didn't play with any fear, I don't think you can play like that. It is like with any injury, if you go out there worrying about it you might as well be not playing.
"I got through the game, I want to put it all behind me and hopefully I can have many more games with no problems. I want to get back to playing well and get back in the first team. My confidence is going to grow with every game and I want to get more under my belt and put all this behind me if possible."
While it is easy to imagine that a player absent from duty is suffering from a lack of fitness, this is certainly not the case with Dean, who has trained hard throughout what has been a frustrating period for him.
"Even after the scans, where I had to avoid heading the ball, I was out with Alex the fitness coach and she has been first class in keeping my fitness up. Really, with being with a fitness coach, I've probably been training harder than I would have been training every day with the lads.
"I feel in good shape, I was comfortable in the game and didn't feel I was struggling with my fitness at any time. I'm quite naturally fit anyway and I'm not worried about my fitness in the slightest. I've just got to be patient now."
Patient maybe, but Dean insists he will be striving to catch the eye of Martin Jol with his performances in the coming weeks.
"I'm not in a position where I can go banging on his door saying I should be playing because I've been out for so long. There are players in front of me now and I've obviously fallen down the pecking order.
"I know I am capable though and that, on my day, I am good enough for the first team. I've just got to bide my time, he will see me training hard and playing in the reserves. Hopefully my call will come."
Dean Richards is aiming for a first team return after setting off on the comeback trail earlier in the week for the reserves against Fulham.