For Elliott Frear, sitting on the sidelines isn’t something he’s used to.
But in the last few months, Motherwell’s tricky winger has experienced muscle injuries which have kept him out of action for prolonged periods.
In his 27 years he’s never experienced this, and he’s desperate to shake off the shackles.
“This is the first time in my career I’ve been really tested with injuries, so it’s been tough,” Frear said. “I’m just trying my best to get back fit without breaking down my hamstrings or anything like that, so it’s crucial to not rush things too much.
“I’ve been working hard with the physios and the fitness coach to make sure that when I do get fit I don’t stand the chance of getting injured again. The staff here are excellent, so that has been a huge part in me getting back to where I am now – on the brink of full fitness again.”
Motherwell’s number 11 is a true out-and-out winger. Bursting down the left flank, the Englishman is one of the Steelmen’s biggest threats when it comes to putting crosses in to the box.
So getting him fully fit again only adds another bow to Stephen Robinson’s armoury. Another option in attack.
And it all looked set to be a season to remember for Frear when he casts his mind back to pre-season.
“It’s a strange one to be honest because pre-season was probably the best I’ve ever had in my career,” he said. “I was delighted with how I was playing and how I felt.
“Then when the season started I felt even better and I felt I was playing really well in the Betfred Cup and in the opener against Rangers too.
“But then I pulled my first muscle in 27 years.”
Dejected, frustrated and in unfamiliar territory: the treatment table.
It left Frear in a situation we wasn’t sure how to deal with, and things only got worse.
“It’s just one of these things, I thought, I’ll recover and I’ll be fine. When I came back in to the team things were good again, I scored at Parkhead after coming off the bench but unfortunately we lost.
“In the back of my mind I felt like things would be good and it was something to take away from that game at least.
“But I got injured again, then I picked up a concussion, it was horrendous but I had to remind myself things like that are part of football.”
But they weren’t part of football for Elliott. Not to this extent.
And it wasn’t just the winger who had to deal with the frustrations and difficulties of injury.
“The manager was frustrated when I first got injured and was even more frustrated when I kept getting injured.
“For me, it made me even more desperate to get back. I know what I’m doing when the gaffer puts me in the team, I know what he wants and expects from me so I want to be available, all the time.”
“To be honest I’m finding out more about my body now. When I was younger I didn’t know how my body would react to certain things. If I was ever on the brink of pulling a muscle, I wouldn’t know how to deal with it.
“Now I do, and that comes with experience with injuries. I always try to take the positives out of things, so maybe the positive from this is that I now know my body better, and that can only help me for the rest of the season and in to next.”
But for the here and now, things are looking good for the smiling, cheery Steelman.
“Luckily, I’m back to enjoying myself again and I feel good. Now I just need to push myself to try and get back in to the team.”
That all starts on Sunday, as ‘Well host Hearts in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup.
“We’ve been here before,” the winger reflected. “We know what it takes to go out there and get a result and I’m sure the gaffer will have a plan for us to execute today to make sure we have the best chance of a result as possible.
“But even beyond this game, we have a crucial spell coming up. Our top six hopes are still alive, we have lots of games in a short space of time and the manager will need to be able to call on all of us and rely on the depth we have to navigate this busy spell.”
As the scorer of the goal that practically guaranteed Motherwell’s top flight status last season, Frear is hungry to end the season in the same sort of form he did last.
“Scoring that goal and the celebrations after that game were special moments to remember, for me and my family and for everyone involved with the club.
“It may have been the best moment for me personally in football because the weight of the threat of relegation was huge. To feel that lift and to score that goal was an unbelievable feeling.”
As he eyes a return to action, and as he discusses the hope of staying injury free, it is plain to see that Elliott Frear loves being a Motherwell player.
“When I first moved up here it was the furthest move I’d ever made. My wife couldn’t move up straight away so we were apart for a while and that side of it was difficult.
“Now, I don’t want to leave.”
And with injury worries behind him and his eyes fully focused on making big strides forward following a frustrating few months, the future is looking bright.