Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen is quite pleased to be in the thick of things as of late, having gotten a regular run of games in December.
The former Arsenal defender has suffered many injuries over the course of his career, but looks to be a part of Ernesto Valverde's plans going forward, with Samuel Umtiti nursing a muscular injury that should keep him out until February.
Vermaelen has played the full 90 in his last four matches for Barca, all of which were victories, and was especially impressive during the 3-0 Clasico win over Real Madrid.
Speaking in an interview with Mundo Deportivo, the 32-year-old expressed delight over the fact that he has remained injury free for over a year, but noted that he understood the doubts surrounding him as a result of his history with injuries.
"I'm very happy," he exclaimed. "I had to very patient because the start was very difficult. The competitions Barça play in are tough and it's not easy to get minutes with a team full of cracks.
Thomas Vermaelen's determination to save something of his Barca career is finally paying off.— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) December 31, 2017
Not so long ago the Belgian defender was mocked in Spain (perhaps understandably) for saying Barca refused all approaches for him in the summer... he wasn't believed. pic.twitter.com/2K99tAa8tT
"I set my mind to be patient and to work hard when I wasn't physically the best. I just focused on my goals; I didn't open my mouth. I wanted to fight hard for any opportunities that presented itself. Luckily, that opportunity arrived a few weeks ago.
"I understand that among people there were doubts about my physical condition, because in recent years I have had a few physical problems. But since November 2016, I have not had any more problems and I've been feeling good for a year.
"I know I have a reputation as a crystal player, but I have managed to overcome and prevent it. Now I am demonstrating that I can be without injuries for a long and I hope to keep it that way."