James Meredith is desperate to make up for lost time after winning his battle with glandular fever.
The left back will be named in his first City starting line-up at Valley Parade this year when they face Wycombe tonight to kick off a run of three successive home games.
For Meredith, who was on the bench at Exeter on Saturday, it marks a major landmark following the debilitating illness which threatened to keep him sidelined for the rest of the campaign.
Meredith last featured on New Year’s Day at Morecambe – when he was taken off at half-time after being sick. At that stage, nobody was sure how serious his condition would be.
The Aussie said: “It was a worrying time for everybody at the club. Nobody really knew and at one point they thought it might have been hepatitis.
“They were really good at the Yorkshire Clinic with the way they treated me and did a series of tests. Given how I felt, it was probably the best outcome when it turned out be glandular fever.
“But I was in a fair state when I was ill in hospital and stuck in bed. The staff treated the situation as if I wasn’t going to play again for the rest of the season.
“A lot of the doctors thought I would be out for a very long time. You never know with glandular fever, it can take 12 months (to clear).”
Meredith had been in outstanding form since his summer capture from York and his ability to link up with City’s left midfield has been missed.
Phil Parkinson snapped up Southampton’s Ryan Dickson on loan as cover in January – but his stay was shortlived after finding out he needed ankle surgery.
Curtis Good was used as a stop-gap and Carl McHugh has been in the role in recent matches. But Meredith’s return will be a huge fillip at a time when City’s play-off ambitions are receding fast.
Meredith successfully came through two 45-minute run-outs for the reserves last week and has declared himself ready for first-team action.
He added: “It’s good to get back in the squad. It’s been near enough three months now.
“This is the first season in five years that I’ve missed more than three games on the bounce. It’s been a killer having to face that mentally.
“But I’ve looked after myself and worked very hard. Now I’ve fast-tracked myself to the point where I’m back a lot sooner than we thought.
“It was great to get back on the pitch last week. It was an unusual feeling but a good one and now I want to do it for the first team in front of a big crowd at Valley Parade.
“I’ve got my fitness and I’m working my way back into the team. I want to get back on it and give it my best in this last run of games.
“Hopefully I can get my shirt again and we can cause an upset and do something special. We need to put some more points on the board.”
With nine games left, City are now ten points adrift of seventh spot. While the campaign will go down in club history for the Wembley appearance, Meredith is frustrated to see them stuck in mid-table.
He said: “It’s been a good season but obviously with the talent in the team and the staff and the management, we expected better. You can’t let it drift.
“The (Capital One) cup was a fantastic achievement, a fantasy thing, but you can’t take your eye off the ball. Maybe we all did that a bit.
“Now’s the time you’ve got to prove yourself and show how much quality you actually do have. It will show whether we deserve to be there (in the play-offs) or not.
“I’m hungry to be among it again and mixing it up with the team and hopefully I’ll be able to do that over these next few games.”