JON NEWBY is edging ever closer to the comeback which he hopes will re-launch his career.
The 25-year-old hasn't played a game since September because of knee trouble and has spent the last three months battling back from surgery to his left knee.
It has been the most frustrating of starts to his big McAlpine move - especially as he failed to score in the early games of the season.
The former Bury star will soon be ready to play a Reserve game, however, and is keen not only to make a fresh start but to play a big part in helping Town reach the play-offs.
"My career has basically been standing still for the last six months, so I've got to be positive, push on from here and make sure I get things moving again," said Newby.
"It has been really frustrating because I hardly missed a game at Bury and there aren't many players in the country who will have played more than my 120 games in the last two and a half years.
"That probably contributed to my injury through wear and tear, but I'm hoping that three months away from football - not the physical stuff because you have to keep your fitness up - will have done me the world of good and I'll return better than ever."
Newby was the goalscoring star of pre-season and played nine of the first 10 League and Cup games.
He was on the bench, however, when the injury to his left knee started to take its toll and, on November 3, he underwent an operation.
"At one stage the specialist thought it might be a cruciate problem and that I might miss the season, so I'm delighted that wasn't the case," he explained.
"It has been hard to be out for so long, though, and going to the gym day after day gets to you after a while.
"Compared with training with the rest of the lads it's really boring, but Lee Martin has been great and has helped to keep me going and now I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
"I've been doing some running for the last couple of weeks, so I'm out and about again, and it will be a great bonus to get back on the training pitch in the near future - I can't wait.
"There are one or two of us who should be back to fitness in the next month or so, though, so hopefully the squad will be stronger and I don't see any reason why we can't challenge for the play-offs."
Newby should know, having scored 12 goals to take Bury to the post-season competition last season, and he wouldn't have signed a two-year deal with Town unless he felt promotion was on the cards.
"We got to the play-offs last season when we weren't expected to, but Huddersfield are expected to make it this year - the fans make that very clear every time we play," he said.
"I really don't see any reason why we can't make the top seven. We are only one point off the play-offs at the moment and we have been picking up points without playing all that well.
"Other clubs are bound to have their `off' spells and, if they don't pick up points like we've been doing, then it's more power to our cause."
Newby's confidence waned after a bright start to the season and he is still dreaming of scoring his first senior goal for the club.
"I can't tell you how much," he said. "Even though I got 12 goals last season, the majority of those came before Christmas so, for the whole of 2003, I think I've only scored one goal, which is unbelievable really," he said.
"All strikers go through these spells, though, and I'm just hoping that after suffering this injury, I will come back hungrier than ever.
"I know it's not going to be easy to get back even on the bench, let alone the starting line-up, because there is tremendous competition in all parts of the squad.
"The fact I was out of the side at the time I suffered the injury makes it all the more important for me to get back, though, and if I can get some games under my belt and score some goals in the latter part of the season, then that will be great."
Newby's only goal of 2003 came in a 2-1 win at Exeter in April, but he is hoping to put that record straight this year, starting in the Reserves this month, either against Bradford on Tuesday or Hull in a couple of weeks.
"My recovery has gone very much to schedule and I'm just looking forward to playing again," he added.
"Once I'd had the operation in November, I was only able to do light work on the exercise bike for a while and then I started swimming. I've spent a lot of time in the pool, but I can't say my swimming has improved at all!
"For the last two or three weeks I've been running again and doing strengthening exercises, and my only aches and pains have been after I've done my running, not during, which is encouraging.
"I will be speaking to the gaffer about the way things are going and how he sees things in the future - but the main thing is to get back out there on the pitch."