Fit-again Jack Iredale is happy to be back where it all began for him at Wanderers as he looks to make up for lost time.
Twelve months ago, Iredale jetted out to Portugal for pre-season training as one of the Whites’ new boys.
And now the defender is back at the same training base on the Algarve with an injury absence behind him and eager to launch the second stage of his Wanderers’ career.
“I can’t believe it’s been a year,” Iredale said. “But now we’re back over here and I’m back full training with the boys and it’s nice to be back.
“In terms of the year it was a pretty mixed one, personally. I was really happy with the way it was going at the start.
“I was loving playing week-in, week-out, especially at home, playing in front of that crowd. It was almost something I dreamed of, coming from where I came from, playing football over there (in Australia).
“I was getting lots of game time and playing at such a big club and then injury came and it was a pretty tough six months, personally.
“It was tough to sit and watch. I was desperate to get out there and help the boys, especially with the way they were going and I missed out on Wembley, as well.
“Players go their whole career not being to get that opportunity and I’ve seen my team be able to do that and I’ve had to miss out through injury.
“That was really tough and I think that made me want to get back and get back even stronger, to be honest.
“I feel really good. I worked quite hard in the off-season and I feel like I’ve come back in good shape. This week’s only going to help us, so I’m really looking forward to that first game of the season.”
Iredale was a regular performer in the first half of last season following his summer signing from Cambridge United before a knee injury at the turn of the year cruelly curtailed his campaign.
The nous and know-how of the 27-year-old was missed as a left-sided defensive option during the run-in as Wanderers came up just short in their promotion bid.
Iredale had targeted a possible return to contention for the League One play-off final at the end of May had Ian Evatt’s men made it through the semi-finals.
That potential comeback was put on ice by a one-goal aggregate defeat to Barnsley.
But having successfully come through surgery and his return to training, the Australian is playing a full part in early pre-season preparations in his bid to compete for a starting spot and help Wanderers launch another challenge at the top end of League One.
“I think the year we had and the way we finished the season, everyone is looking forward to getting started,” Iredale added.
“I am hoping to be able to hit the ground running and I’m looking forward to it.
“Everyone in this team wants to play, myself included. I’m desperate to get hold of that shirt and keep it.
“We’ve got a really, really strong squad but that’s only a positive because everyone knows if they take their foot off the pedal there’s someone right there waiting to take the shirt of them.
“It’s a really tough league. Really big teams went up last year, but a couple of really big teams have come down as well.
“We know it’s a challenging season, but we know what our targets are and everyone is pushing in the same direction.”
Watch the full interview with Jack in the video above as the lads get stuck into their Portugal training camp