American defender Frank Simek looks set to make a full return this weekend when Sheffield Wednesday travel to Southampton. Simek has been out a grueling 12 months with an ankle injury and has yet to make a start in a year.
"It's been an awful 12 months and I don't want to think about it anymore," he told the Yorkshire Post. "It's been a long time but I am more than ready to play now."
Prior to the injury, Simek had been linked with a move to Everton after impressing in more than 100 appearances for the Championship club as a right back. That move was undone by his ankle injury, and the 24-year-old is only now working his way back onto the pitch.
Six weeks ago, Simek made a substitute appearance against Plymouth Argyle, and has featured in reserve games since then. The team has performed well in his absence, but Simek looks to help in any way he can.
"I am confident that the team can do something this season and, from a personal point of view, I want to play and get back to my old self," he said. "I was probably not ready six weeks ago but I feel a lot better and stronger now, I am flying into tackles without any worries, and I am definitely hungry after a year without competitive football."
Simek may be flying into tackles, but his manager won't be rushing into anything. Brian Laws urged patience as the defender takes time to find form and full fitness.
"We should not expect Frank to be like he was before he got injured," said Laws. "He was flying but, after such a long layoff, only games under his belt will get him back to that level. We cannot expect everything straight away."
For now, the start against Southampton will have to do.