Wales midfielder Emyr Huws hopes his move to Cardiff City can help banish the agony of missing Euro 2016.
The 22-year-old was left out of Wales manager Chris Coleman’s 23-man squad ahead of their historic run to the semi-finals in France.
Having joined Cardiff from Wigan, Huws is now aiming to secure a regular starting place in the Bluebirds’ midfield.
“It was tough, but you learn from things,” he said of his Wales omission.
“Looking back I can [take positives], but at the time it was hard, I’m not going to lie. But things like that make you stronger so I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.
“I’ve come here to play – hopefully week in, week out – and see where it gets me.”
Coleman named Huws as one of the players most unfortunate to be left out of the squad for the European Championship.
Injuries to fellow midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Jonny Williams could present Huws with a chance to feature in Wales’ opening 2018 World Cup qualifier at home to Moldova in September – though he is coy about his prospects.
“Maybe, but at the minute I’m just aiming to get my fitness up and get a starting place here [at Cardiff] and then can see where that gets me,” he added.
Born in Llanelli, Huws left Swansea City to join Manchester City when he was 15 but managed only one senior appearance for the former Premier League champions.
Hampered by several injuries, he had loan spells with Northampton, Birmingham and Wigan, before joining the Latics permanently.
The seven-cap Wales midfielder could not settle, however, and after spending last season on loan at Huddersfield, he has joined Cardiff in the hope of enjoying a sustained period with one club.
“I’ve moved about a while which is nothing to do with myself, I just want to play football and enjoy myself,” said Huws.
“Hopefully I can have a successful future at Cardiff, which is what I’m aiming to do. Hopefully I can stay fit and clear of injuries and get a run of games going which is the plan.”
Being like Busquets
Although Huws struggled to establish himself at Manchester City with stellar international midfielders such as Yaya Toure and David Silva standing in his way, his time at the Etihad did provide the left-footer with valuable experience.
His head coach for City’s development squad was former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira, who encouraged Huws to draw inspiration from Barcelona and Spain’s World Cup-winning holding midfielder Sergio Busquets.
“I’d probably say my best role is the deepest one [in midfield] but equally it’s not a massive difference in my head – I don’t have a huge preference,” Huws added.
“Patrick Viera was always trying to get me to look at him [Busquets] and model my game on the way he played for Barcelona. A top class player.
“There’s loads you look up to, can pick things off all top players, and since I was young I looked up to [former Liverpool and England midfielder] Steven Gerrard.”