Few could forgive Ryan Catney the spring in the step with which he led Cliftonville into last night’s opening friendly with Derry City at Solitude.
Making his first appearance since suffering an horrific leg break in the opening weeks of 2017, Catney played the first-half of the game and afterwards reflected: “Seventeen months is a long time.
“Just getting back in and the buzz about the changing room – seeing your shirt with the name and number on it, boots and shinpads and you feel part of the team again.
“I’ve plenty of time to make up for. I was out for 17 months and it was frustrating watching and I thought I was only going to be playing the first-half (against Derry), so I just thought I may as well go for it.”
Having targeted a return last season, Catney was forced to go back under the surgeon’s knife during a backward step in his rehabilitation but is determined to make the most of things now that he’s donned his boots again.
“You think you’re getting better and then I get hit with a second operation which knocked me back a wee bit,” adds the 31-year-old.
“You have these things, they’re sent to test you and obviously I’m glad that, fingers crossed, it’s all behind me and all that hard work that I put in when I was injured, hopefully it bears fruit for going into the new season.”