Injuries worried Neville
Manchester United defender Gary Neville has admitted his mounting list of injuries had been a major concern.
Although Neville is currently fit and aiming to play a part in United's trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, the 34-year-old has spent more time on the treatment table than he would have liked lately.
His problems started with a broken ankle sustained against Bolton in March 2007. Neville's time on the sidelines was extended by a series of muscular problems which halted his comeback plans. It meant not only did the veteran full-back miss the remainder of that season, he only played once during the 2007-08 campaign that saw United crowned European Champions.
Last year did see a marked improvement. But still, his 27 appearances did not include the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona. And, while he did return to the England fold for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra in June, he wasn't able to end an international exile that now dates back over two-and-a-half years.
So, when Neville was forced to fly home from United's Far East tour with yet another groin problem, it was no surprise the alarm bells started ringing once more.
"Over the last two years injury has been a concern for me," he admitted. "It is a concern for every footballer. It is frustrating. But it is not something I think about every day. I have just had to deal with it."
Thankfully, Neville seems to have got over his latest problem and was a key figure in the morale-boosting five-goal defeat of Wigan at the DW Stadium last month.Now, he is just looking forwards.
"I just hope to say as fit as possible and play games for the club," he said. "I am doing everything I possibly can and the medical staff are helping me as well."
With Wes Brown, John O'Shea - who is also set for an extended spell on the sidelines after picking up a muscular injury on international duty with the Republic of Ireland - and both Fabio and, when fit, Rafael Da Silva able to fill the right-back berth, Sir Alex Ferguson does have plenty of options.
Yet Neville's value goes far beyond his ability on the pitch.
Along with fellow old stagers Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Neville's presence in the dressing room is crucial too, although.
Not that he sees it that way. Neville has been around long enough to know if he had no value, his manager would get rid.
"The manager would not have me here if he didn't think I contributed in some way," he said. "I can contribute a lot more when I am fit."