Upbeat Gillingham striker Adam Birchall is delighted to be back in the fold and is making solid pre-season progress as he looks to make his long-awaited mark at the club.
Birchall joined the Gills this time last year amid high hopes following a successful season with Dover, but his impact was dramatically cut short after sustaining a serious cruciate ligament injury during a summer friendly, ruling him out for the entire campaign.
But, 12 months on, the 27-year-old is now back in training and happy to be involved as he looks to prove his worth to the Kent outfit. He told the club's official website: "I'm very optimistic, I'm back with the boys and it feels like I am really part of it."
He added: "In regards to general fitness, I'm where I usually am in pre-season.
"Out on long runs I'm in the middle of the pack, you won't see me out front but you won't see me at the back either. I'm still pretty sharp despite being out for a year, so I feel fine.
"I'm joining in with the boys, I'm not getting tackled that much - to Frammo's (Andy Frampton) disappointment, because I know he really wants to tackle me.
"So that's the next stage, building up to nitty gritty tackles and coming out okay."