Reece Flanagan is back in full training with Walsall - and the 22-year-old midfielder is targeting a full pre-season campaign following an injury-hit 2016/17.
Flanagan missed the entire of last season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in training in April, before suffering a dislocated shoulder in his comeback game for the developmental side last February.
That followed productive back-to-back campaigns in which Flanagan made 18 first-team appearances in 2014/15, then 17 the following season.
Flanagan was one of several under-23s taking part in two compulsory training sessions last week and while it is a little too early for any serious contact, the young midfielder had the ball at his feet and took part in a series of drills with the likes of Amadou Bakayoko, Kory Roberts and Maz Kouhyar.
“Reece is okay, he’s still part of it,” said manager Jon Whitney.
“He trained fully but we’ll still be managing him as regards to contact with the shoulder.
“We’ll give it as long as we can before we start to put that through real force.
“It was a really good, young, energetic group.”
And Flanagan hopes the work he does over the summer with regards to his fitness will help him play a full part in pre-season after he missed that time last summer.
“I’m not allowed to do too much on weights yet but I’m practically doing full training now, even if we’re a bit hesitant with full contact,” said Flanagan.
“The aim is coming back to pre-season as normal. I can start doing press-ups and light weight work now so I should be able.
“It was disappointing not to be able to do that last year and it’ll be good to get a fresh start.
“(The shoulder injury) could be a blessing in disguise ironically, as it’s given me time to look at my knee. I can start from new and build into it in pre-season.
“I’ve got to keep maintaining myself with the knee. I need to make sure I build strength over the summer.
“I can start earlier with my fitness than the rest of the lads this summer. We’ve got another six weeks until we start, so I can build my fitness ahead of pre-season.”
Neither of the injuries he suffered in in 2016/17 have not got Academy product Flanagan down, however.
In fact, Flanagan has insisted he has only looked at the positives in that time - and now aims to push on again ahead of next season as he aims to get back into the first-team picture.
“For me, I’ve never taken the time to look at the negatives,” he added.
“I always set myself a target. With the knee, I said I’ll aim for Christmas or January to return, so having done that I put it to the back of my mind.
“Then I had two or three months with the shoulder.
“I just had to concentrate on getting ready for the start of next year.
“Hopefully I can play more of a role this year. I was in for a few games previously (in 2015/16) so this year hopefully I can push on.”