Stephen Kelly is relieved to have remained injury-free this pre-season after occupying the treatment room this time last year.
The young full-back suffered a knee injury at Sheffield United during last pre-season after launching into an unnecessary challenge and was initially forced down the pecking order as Philip Ifil and Noe Pamarot staked their claim for the right-back berth.
Fast forward a year and the Republic of Ireland under-21 international has enjoyed a productive preparation period and featured in three out of the four Peace Cup encounters as well as the friendly at Reading. He does, however, face a new challenge for first team selection in the shape of the experienced Paul Stalteri - who started against Porto after recovering from injury - but this time he is fit to compete for his place.
"It has been good so far for me, I have got four full games under my belt and we did well out in Korea," reflected Stephen. "The new signings are all doing well and we are all looking forward to the start of the season.
"If you get an injury in pre-season it really does knock you back as you have to start again on your fitness all over again. So far, touch wood, I have been lucky enough to stay injury-free and long may it last.
"Last season I missed out on the start and others got to play at right back. This time I have stayed fit and, if I do well in training and games, I have got a chance of playing at the start."
The athletic 21-year-old really forced his way back into the first team fold from the end of January onwards and started 16 of our last 19 games, making 23 appearances in total and chipping in with two goals.
He is clearly hoping for more of the same as he seeks to establish himself as a Premiership player.
"The run of games I had at the end of last season was fantastic for me and I didn't want the season to end. I felt I was improving with every game.
"Now, if I start off this season and get a good run of games, I will get more confident and hopefully grow as a player. Last season I think I played about 23 games which was fantastic and I will be aiming to play more this season."
"Asked for his seasonal hunch, 'Steo' didn't hesitate when it came to speculating on an improvement to last term's Premiership finish and he feels the addition of Edgar Davids to the ranks can only help in that respect.
"Definitely, with the players we've signed. We've got a youthful group and now we've got a bit more experience in the squad with Edgar Davids. It is fantastic and I am really looking forward to the season and seeing how we do.
"There will be a bit of expectation on us this season because we are starting to gel and I think the season could be really good for us."