Luke Shaw admits he feared for his career after suffering a serious leg break but he is now ready to push on at Manchester United.
A stop-start first season at Old Trafford made way for what looked set to be a fine second campaign, only for a sickening double leg break to bring his progress to an abrupt halt last September.
Shaw made his first appearance in 10 months in Saturday’s friendly against Wigan, with the England full-back calling his return to action the “best feeling ever”.
It was an emotional afternoon in front of his family and so many United fans at the DW Stadium after navigating his way through a taxing road to recovery.
“(It was) not a fear but when I first did it, the first thoughts that went through my head were ‘am I going to play football again?’ or ‘how long am I going to be out for?’,” Shaw said.
“It wasn’t too much the pain because I could deal with that at that point but, yeah, there was a fear of how long it was going to take or even if I was going to get back playing football. But as I went through it I knew I was coming back.
“I think now I’m just looking past it and I am not going to look back, I’m just going to look forward now and obviously my leg feels great.
“I just want to push on in this pre-season and get fully fit.”
Shaw is stepping up that return to fitness in China, with a friendly against Manchester City in Beijing following Friday’s encounter with Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai.
The heat and humidity makes this a testing trip for the squad, but the boyhood Chelsea fan is enjoying working under new boss Jose Mourinho and is excited for the future.
“We’ve done a couple of weeks now and I’ve spoken to him a couple of times and obviously all the others players have talked as well,” he said.
“I think we are going to be challenging for every sort of title that we can go for this season.
“We all feel that it’s a fresh, new start with a new manager and we’re bringing in some great players.
“Maybe there’s a couple more to come, you never know, but I think we all feel strong as a group and it’s important now to sort out the tactical side of what Jose wants us to do in games.
“So we’re practising that in training sessions and hopefully we can take that into games and show a very strong side.”
United have brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly so far this summer, with a central midfielder soon to swell the numbers further – increased competition that Shaw believes his team-mates relish.
“I think you’ve always got to play for your future,” he said.
“There will always be players that are coming in. We are at Manchester United so there’s obviously going to be people coming in your position. I think you’ve just got to get used to that.
“I’d say everyone has looked normal, no-one has looked like they could be leaving or not. You don’t know. We don’t speak about that, they obviously keep it private.
“But everyone looks to me normal and enjoying the training we are doing at the moment.”