Mansfield Town striker Liam Hearn believes he has put his injury nightmare behind him.
The former Grimsby man had been wrapped up in cotton wool by Stags as he continued to fight his way back from a serious knee injury which had threatened to end his career.
But hitman Hearn burst off the bench in style to score two goals in 13 second-half minutes as Mansfield defeated Leeds United 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Hearn, who was making his first start for Stags, coolly converted the penalty he had won on 71 minutes, before completing the victory with a composed finish on 83 minutes.
“I feel that I am over the injury now and it is just a case of building up my fitness levels,” said Hearn. “It is great to put the injury behind me and to be playing football again.
“I will just be taking each game as it comes and will keep my feet on the ground.
“I always knew that I would come back from the injury. I am a determined person and I knew that I just had to keep working hard and be patient.
“As my recovery went on the tasks become harder, but I never lost faith that I would be back playing and scoring again.
“Two goals gives me lots of confidence after what I have been through.
“It was a penalty. I read the keeper coming out, but thought he would get there first. The keeper hesitated and that allowed me to get to the ball first.
“It was a cool penalty in the end, but at first I did not want to take it and passed it on.
“I’ve had a long time out and didn’t fancy missing it, but I had a word with myself and told myself to ‘man up.’
“This performance is also helping to repay the faith that the boss has shown in me, but I am not going to get carried away with anything just yet.
“It is nice to get the goals, but we are still only in pre-season and it is what happens in the season that counts.
“The other strikers have also done well in pre-season, so I will just keep working hard and wait to get my chances.”
The 2-0 win over Championship Leeds kept up an excellent run of pre-season form for Mansfield, who have already beaten Notts County and pushed Aston Villa all the way before losing 3-1.
And Hearn believes Stags can take their impressive momentum into the season and cause a few surprises.
“The boss has got a plan of how he wants to play and things are starting to come together,” he said.
“This is the best group of players I have played with in my career.
“There is a great team spirit running through camp, it is a great bunch of lads and we are all in it together.
“The boss knows what he is doing. He has got a good eye for a player and we have got some quality in the squad. Hopefully we can translate that into wins.”
Hearn will be hoping to feature for longer in Stags’ next friendly against former club Grimbsy Town on Friday night.