Conor McAleny was over the moon to make a long-awaited return to action for Everton Under-21s on Monday evening.
The striker suffered a broken leg soon after joining Brentford on loan at the start of the season and has spent five months on the sidelines.
His recovery work stepped up in the New Year and he was a welcome name on the first-team bench for the FA Cup tie at Stevenage last month.
McAleny's patience and dedication in recovery would merit a 30-minute substitute appearance at Bishops Stortford - one which almost garnered a late winner.
"I'm buzzing to be back," the 21-year-old told evertonfc.com.
"I've really missed being on the pitch and I can't wait to get going now.
"The goalkeeper made a good save. I thought it was in to be honest! It would have been the perfect comeback."
A return ahead of schedule certainly provides hope for the remainder of the season and McAleny was quick to thank the medical staff at Finch Farm for their work and support.
He added: "It's a credit to them. I'm in the best hands here. The treatment I've been getting over the past five months has been spot on. I can't fault it at all.
"I was doing well and enjoying it at Brentford, but these injuries are part of football. The longer you dwell on it the worse it can be. I had to accept that I couldn't do anything about it except do all of the rehab correctly.
"Doing ball work recently meant I was just on the verge. I was itching to play. I've just got to do everything right now and hopefully the rewards will come.
"I want to get as many minutes as I can and see where it takes me in the next month or two."
Everton Under-21s are next in action against Sunderland at Southport on Monday 10 February (7pm kick-off). Admission is free for Season Ticket holders and FOREVERTON members, or £5 for adults and £3 for concessions otherwise.