DETERMINED Darren McGregor has vowed to get physical as he tries to muscle his way back into the St Mirren first team.
McGregor, 26, made a big impression during his first season with Saints after joining from Cowdenbeath but it all went horribly wrong for him early on in the 2011/12 campaign when he ruptured the cruciate ligament in his knee during a 1-1 SPL draw with Dundee United at Tannadice.
That injury led to the centre-half going under the surgeon’s knife and he then faced a seven-month lay-off.
However, thanks to the healing hands of club physio Gerry Docherty and a structured rehab programme, McGregor made a welcome return to action before the end of last season.
Now he faces a three-way fight with Lee Mair and Marc McAusland for the two centre-half berths in Danny Lennon’s team.
And McGregor aims to prove that he can be an even better player than the one who was doing so well for Saints before injury struck.
He told Express Sports: “To get that injury was a real kick in the teeth but I’m over it now and the good thing is that I feel stronger than ever.
“I feel more able to kick-on for next season. I’m in a good position. I’d been training and training but now I’m physically and mentally prepared for what’s to come.”
McGregor admits he found it difficult to have to sit on the sidelines for so long but reckons it taught him that the mental side of a player’s wellbeing can be just as important as his physical attributes.
He said: “The longest I’d been out before was a couple of months, so to be out for six or seven months was really difficult for me.
“Towards the end of my rehabilitation, it was all about ensuring that everything was okay. I didn’t want to rush things and then suffer a setback.
“Now the big thing for me is to make a real impact next season and the fact that I feel so strong now will be a real help.
“I intend to make the most of the opportunity to get back into the team on a regular basis.”
McGregor also reckons that he can view next season as a fresh start to his St Mirren career.
He added: “It’s only when you’re turning up to games and are having to watch from the sidelines that you realise how privileged you are to be a footballer.
“I’m delighted to be fit again. I feel good mentally and physically and I think I now have an even greater appreciation of how lucky I am to play football for a living. It’s a great honour.”