West Ham striker Dean Ashton admitted he feared for his future during his year out with a broken ankle.
Ashton returned to action at Dagenham & Redbridge
Ashton had his first taste of action since his injury in England training last August as West Ham beat Dagenham and Redbridge 2-0 in a friendly.
The 23-year-old said: "There were times when I thought I might not get back, so I'm really going to enjoy this season.
"It was an absolute joy to be out there playing, it has been a long, tough year and I'm glad to be back."
A year on the touchlines was frustrating for the striker and he confessed to being helpless as he watched West Ham's successful battle to avoid relegation.
Ashton joined West Ham in January 2006 for £7.25m from Norwich but made only nine starts for the Hammers before his injury.
He added: "I don't think there will be a hungrier player in the Premier League this season than me.
"I want to show people how well I have come back from this injury.
"It was hard watching last season, you don't want to see your team struggling at the bottom of the league.
"I was delighted to see how the season ended. From a selfish point of view I wanted to play in the Premiership."
Ashton was pleased with his work-out, even after being on the receiving end of a stiff challenge in the opening minutes of the game.
He said: "That tackle probably did me a favour. I need that sort of thing to get my confidence back.
"The fact I got the tackle so early in the game did me good. It's part and parcel of the game and I need to get used to it."
Ashton suffered his injury during his first call-up to the England squad and is keen to catch coach Steve McClaren's eye.
He commented: "At the moment, all I want to do is enjoy being back and enjoy my football but if that call comes along I will be over the moon."