Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele has revealed his latest spell on the sidelines following a hip injury was his worst yet, with the pain "more intense" than ever before - but he ready to play once again.
The Belgium international suffered a recurrence of the injury picked up while he was still at Fulham, and has been unable to start a game for Spurs since the 2-0 victory over Aston Villa on October 7.
While manager Andre Villas-Boas will be concerned at the severity of the midfielder's complaint, the Portuguese boss will be relieved to have his summer signing back as the side push for a Champions League place.
"I've had this hip problem before but this time it has been worse than it ever was in the past," he told reporters.
"Normally I can rest for three or four days and it is okay but this time the pain was more intense and I needed a longer spell out."
The Belgian stated that he has worked hard on his recovery, and is happy the club allowed him time to work back to full fitness without the danger of suffering a setback.
He continued: "I've worked with a personal physio in Belgium and it requires a lot of exercises. When I first got the problem again, I was worried that I would have to have an operation but the medical staff at Tottenham were very good.
"We searched for the best doctors that there were to treat hip injuries and I was supported very well. I'm happy the club gave me the time and space I needed to be pain-free again.
"When I thought I would need an operation, it was a difficult time for me and I wasn't happy but, unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do about it. Luckily, I've now been given the all-clear to play by the doctors."
After a long time out Dembele is relieved to be on the pitch if only for short spells, and believes he can offer Villas-Boas an interesting alternative against Liverpool on Wednesday night.
He added: "It's good to be back on the pitch again, even just for short spells, after having more than a month out.
"I didn't feel as though I could have played a full game against Lazio or West Ham but it's a lot better.
"I need to talk to the manager to see when it's right for me to play 90 minutes but I hope I can do my bit now and help the team. I always want them to do well so I wasn't happy to see the poor results.
"I am a creative player and I can bring something more to the team."