The time it's for real, hopes Rotherham United comeback man Grant Hall
The centre-half, who had been out of action since July with hamstring issues, knew he wasn't quite up to the rigours of first-team football when injuries elsewhere in the Millers squad forced him to return too early in September.
Following a substitute appearance against Bristol City and a start at Southampton, he was duly sidelined again, this time by a hip problem, but is now back in good health and set for a place in the matchday 20 for Friday night's home clash with promotion-chasing Leeds United.
“The problem I had was that the injury situation dictated that I had to be involved,” he said as he reflected on his ill-fated, brief inclusion.
“It was tough to be thrown in at the deep end and I feel like the setback came because of that.”
Now, though, it's a different story and the 32-year-old reckons a fortnight of solid training during the international break has left him in the right condition to face Daniel Farke's side in the Yorkshire derby if required.
“I've got a good couple of weeks in the bank this time around and I'm feeling ready,” he said. “In terms of games to potentially come back into, it's a great one. The opposition are flying at the moment.”
Following their relegation from the Premier League, Leeds have won six of their last seven games and are in third spot as they make the short trip down the M1 to take on 22nd-placed Rotherham
Hall has performed well at second-tier level throughout his career but a chequered fitness record has seen the former Queens Park Rangers and Middlesbrough player manage more than 30 matches in a season only three times.
He has his fingers crossed that he can keep himself available for the majority of the 30 league fixtures the club have left to climb out of the drop zone.
“Games and match fitness, that's all I'm lacking,” he said. “You can do all of the work you want in training but it isn't the same as the cut and thrust of a match.
“I've still got to earn my place in the team but I just feel that, with a run of games, I can really get some momentum going.”
Friday’s clash is the Millers’ first outing since the exit of manager Matt Taylor.
Hall was sorry at the boss’s departure but thinks the need to impress a new boss could work in Rotherham's favour in their bid to stay up.
“Everyone will have a point to prove to whoever is in charge,” he said. “There are places up for grabs. I'll be looking to show what I'm capable of and hopefully nail a place down.
“Most of the players have dealt with managerial changes before. It's never nice to see a manager leave and I have a lot of respect for Matt
“He had been fantastic with me and I was sad to see him leave but these things happen in football.”