FIRED-UP Jason Kennedy reckons his lost year at Bradford City will turn him into a better player.
The midfielder has been one of the leading lights in City's slick start to the new campaign.
It represents a dramatic change of fortune for the former Rochdale player, who looked to be on his way out of Valley Parade after a poor first season.
Kennedy finished last term back at 'Dale on loan and out of the picture with the Bantams.
But he has returned this time with a point to prove – and on the evidence so far is starting to win over a sceptical fanbase.
Kennedy said: "If you'd asked me earlier if I thought I'd be starting the first game of the season, I'd have said no.
"But fortunately the gaffer's given me that opportunity after coming back and working hard. Obviously I'd like to prove to him and the fans what a player I can be.
"What I found hard last season was not playing every week. In previous years I've always been playing constantly, so if you weren't playing well you could drag yourself back to form.
"It was very difficult but I think it's made me mentally stronger. I've learned how I can deal with disappointments and I think it's built up my character.
"You've just got to be more determined, work even harder and ride the tough times out."
Kennedy made his mark straight away with the run and cross to set up James Hanson's late winner against Coventry on the opening day. That provided the springboard for an early run of impressive form.
He said: "Setting up that goal lifted a big weight off my shoulders. The Coventry game didn't go perfectly but I really enjoyed being part of it again.
"I just got the ball out of my feet and I knew that if I put the ball in a decent area then nine times out of ten big James Hanson is going to score.
"I've started the season quite well but I know it's just step by step. I've got a lot to prove still but hopefully I can change people's opinions and show everyone what a player I can be."
The change of system has also suited the 27-year-old, who was used to playing in a three-man midfield with his former club. The diamond approach allows Kennedy a lot more of the ball.
He said: "The formation lets you express yourself more as a midfielder. We all know that we can interchange and play each position.
"You also have a lot more options. If we need to we can hit James Hanson and we've got the pace of Aaron Mclean and Mason (Bennett) to get in behind.
"Then you've got the likes of Billy Knott, Gary Liddle and Mark Yeates, who can get the ball down and play some good football.
"It's been a hectic start but I'm really enjoying being involved. But I know I've got to keep my place in the team by working hard."