Jack Rodwell has revealed he wondered if his persistent hamstring problems would force him into retirement last season.
The England international made his first league start for almost six months in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday and said he feels like “a new signing” for the Premier League champions.
But the ┬ú12 million midfielder, a summer buy from Everton, said his final season at Goodison Park made him question if he had a long-term future in the game.
He told British daily newspapers: “I doubted whether I was just built for it. I’ve had my family around me all the time and that’s been a great help. I’ve stayed strong and now I’m back.
“I did think the worst but then I thought that there’s not many people in the position of being injured doing the thing they love. Now I’m back.”
Rodwell moved house to be nearer City’s Carrington training ground, changed his car and his pillow in a bid to stay fit and now he is finally optimistic his injury problems are at an end.
He added: “Before the last five or six weeks when I’ve been back fit I used to go into training and was never confident. I was just praying I got through training and that’s just not the way to be at all. We took a step back, went back to the drawing board and looked at everything.”
Rodwell’s first campaign at the Etihad Stadium has been interrupted by a hamstring injury, suffered while training with the England Under-21 team, but he has returned to fitness.
He was a surprise selection against Chelsea but was praised by manager Roberto Mancini for his performance after he was substituted and hopes that will finally kick-start his City career.
He added: “I’ve not been available for maybe 20 games in mid-season so yeah, I feel like a new signing coming into the team.
“As the manager brought me off against Chelsea, he said I’d done well. I’m just pleased to be back on the pitch and injury free to be honest.
“My last start was September. I’ve not really had a lot of opportunities because of the injuries. I’m still young at I’m 21, so I’m still maturing bodily.”