Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta is ready to face Premier League newcomers QPR at Goodison Park this weekend despite missing key parts of pre-season through injury.
Arteta, 29, injured a foot on the club's tour to the United States last month and although fears he had broken a bone were quickly dismissed, it impeded his preparation.
However, he played 67 minutes of a friendly with Bohemians in Ireland on Tuesday night - hastily arranged after the Toffees' opening league match at Tottenham was postponed because of the London riots - and feels ready for action.
"It's good to be back. I nearly broke my foot in a tackle in America,'' the Spaniard told the Liverpool Echo. "Thankfully it wasn't but it took a couple of weeks to find out due to the swelling.
"I couldn't train but hopefully now I can get my fitness back and start the season properly. It was not ideal because in pre-season you want to take part in every session and play all the games to get in the best condition possible for the start.
"But it's not been the case. I've been working really hard in the last 10 days and we'll see how I do in the game against QPR. I will tell you how far I am off full fitness after the game on Saturday.
"It will obviously be very different in front of your own crowd at your own stadium and there is the adrenaline of a Premier League football game. The tempo will be different.''
The delay in starting their league campaign has no doubt helped the playmaker in his recovery and the friendly was also a useful exercise for other players catching up with the rest of the squad in terms of fitness.
Assistant manager Steve Round was pleased to see the Spaniard come through more than an hour without any problems, with a few others also getting some useful game time.
"He has taken another step closer to being fully fit,'' Round told evertontv. "He has missed most of pre-season with a foot injury and now he has got those minutes under his belt, which is important.