Tyrone Mears is relishing the challenge that lies ahead for Bolton Wanderers this season having returned to fitness following an injury-plagued first year at the Reebok.
The 29-year-old is particularly looking forward to Wanderers’ first two matches of their Npower Championship campaign as he will face two of his former clubs - Burnley and Derby County.
“It will be nice to go back to Turf Moor and see everyone,” he confessed to Wanderers Player at the start of pre-season. “I’m not too sure about the reception that I will receive at Burnley and Derby, but I enjoyed my time at both clubs.
“With Burnley, the first half of the Premiership season is a stand-out highlight because the team was in a really good position.
“But away from the football side, the people I worked with whilst I was there - the players and people behind the scenes, there is some really nice people. It was the same at Derby, so it will be nice to go back.
“What is important, though, is that we make a strong start to the season and get off the mark with a win.”
Less than a week after manager Owen Coyle secured his services, Mears sustained a broken leg whilst in pre-season training. He insists that being out for almost the entirety of last season was a low point in his career and that regaining full fitness has been a challenge.
Throughout the last five weeks, however, the full-back has shown glimpses of the form which has seen him represent clubs like Marseille, including a man of the match performance against Barcelona B last Friday evening.
“To break your leg in training, I don’t think it is something that occurs often. Unfortunately, it happened and it is just one of those things,” he said.
“It was one of the lowest seasons I’ve had. I think it is trying to deal with it- knowing you’re going to be out for a long time. Once you’re back, you build back up but it is very difficult getting back to the level that you’re used to being at.
“Like I say, it was a low point for me but I think it is important to react positively and come back and make sure you’re stronger.”
Having won promotion to the Premier League with Burnley in 2009, he knows exactly what it takes to accomplish.
“It is just down to consistency really and being hard to beat,” he added. “In the Premier League, especially with the attackers that are in it these days, you can be in a game and dominate and then a player produces some magic and you’re out of the game.
“You don’t get that as much in the Championship so if you can dominate games and be strong and organised throughout, it makes a big difference.
“With missing so much football last season, I’m just hoping to hit the ground running and I cannot wait for the season to start. Rather than looking in the past, I am looking towards the future.
“We have kept a lot of the good players here and we are in a strong position. Who knows, the Gaffer may add one or two more yet, but either way it should be a good season for us.”