Steve Sidwell is hoping that the 2012/13 season can be his launch pad back to regular Premier League football after an injury plagued season last year with Martin Jol's Fulham.
The Whites central midfielder underwent a number of operations on hernia injuries last season meaning the former Arsenal, Chelsea and Reading player made a handful of appearances last season.
Sidwell said: “It was really tough for me to be honest,” when asked about the last 12-months at The Cottage.
“I had three operations in 6-months. I kept rushing back, never rested properly and then it took one final one over the summer.
“I was never right [last season]. I kept putting myself forward and that’s the kind of player that I am. If I can jog, I’m fit, so I was never good enough to be selected and that was my downfall.”
The Fulham number four, though, is back to full fitness and looking to secure a place in Jol’s starting eleven, and the 29-year-old hopes he can come in and take on the mantle left by Fulham’s departing captain Danny Murphy.
“Midfield wise we’ve got a lot of players in there so I’m trying to cement a place in the side and get a good run of games.
“Danny was a big influence on the team and it’s down to the others to step up to the plate and get the lads through.
“I’m one of those players that’s sort of a leader both on the pitch and off it. If things have to be said I say it in a positive way and I think that the way I play has got leadership qualities there so hopefully ill spread that onto others.”
Fulham kick off their Premier League campaign this Saturday against Norwich at Craven Cottage.