Birmingham City midfielder Damien Johnson is hoping his 18-month injury "nightmare" is finally over.
The Northern Ireland international made his first Premier League appearance of the campaign against Reading at the weekend in the 1-1 draw at St Andrew's.
The 29-year-old was an integral part of the Blues side which spent four successive seasons in the top flight after moving from Blackburn for just £50,000. But Johnson has been restricted to a handful of appearances since the beginning of the 2006-2007 campaign.
He suffered a fractured jaw in a challenge by West Brom defender Paul Robinson which kept him out of action for three months. But the bigger concern has been a series of hamstring setbacks which have affected him since February.
His only appearance this season was in the Carling Cup at Blackburn before a suspension to Mehdi Nafti gave new manager Alex McLeish the chance to recall him against Reading.
Johnson said: "It was just a case of getting to the bottom of the problem and hopefully I've done that now. I've had to be very patient and it has been a frustrating time but Saturday was a good day to get a game under my belt and hopefully there are more to come now.
"It has been a nightmare 18 months and hopefully it is all behind me now. All I want to do is play."
Johnson, last season's captain, had no complaints about Liam Ridgewell retaining the skipper's armband which was handed to him by previous manager Steve Bruce when he was out through injury.
He said: "The captaincy is the manager's decision and that is fine by me. Like I said, I just want to play games now."
Birmingham striker Mikael Forssell believes Johnson can have a key role to play in the second half of the season.
The Finnish international said: "Damien has been out for a long time and I told him after Saturday's game: 'I never thought you were going to be that fit today given the work you put in.
"But Jonty is that type of player. You know what you are going to get out of him. He is going to be very important.
"He is the kind of player that some people might take for granted but we all appreciate him and what he does for the side."