DAMIEN JOHNSON believes he’s back where he belongs.
And having sealed a second season-long loan move from Plymouth, the experienced midfielder is ready to repay Town for the support he received after damaging a cruciate knee ligament last December.
“The club showed tremendous support by putting me through surgery and rehabilitation, and I want to give something back,” explained the 32-year-old former Birmingham skipper.
“Things were going really well for me before the injury (suffered during the 2-1 home win over Brighton), and it was frustrating to have to look on during the second half of the season, because it’s not nice when you can’t contribute.
“Obviously I’m technically a Plymouth player, so I had to go back there at the end of last season, but I always wanted to come back to Huddersfield.”
Plymouth’s financial problems and Johnson’s contract, signed in February 2010 when Argyle were still in the Championship, meant it took a while to seal the deal for a Galpharm return for the man who has turned out just 20 times for the troubled Devon side.
“It was pretty much out of my hands, and while it became clear that both clubs wanted to sort it out, I had to remain patient until it actually happened,” explained Johnson.
“There’s always a little worry until you actually put pen to paper, but I just tried to focus on getting myself as fit as possible.”
Johnson, who played 23 times for Town last season, took part in all Plymouth’s pre-season training sessions as boss Peter Reid prepared for life in League II after last season’s second successive relegation.
But he didn’t play a game until joining Town, and having figured for 45 minutes of the 2-1 win at Eastwood, played for an hour in last Saturday’s 3-1 win at Rotherham then got more valuable gametime in Tuesday’s 2-1 win behind close doors at Doncaster.
“My knee feels fine,” confirmed the man who got his break in English football when Blackburn signed him from Portadown in 1997 and went on to make 81 appearances for Rovers before playing 214 times for Birmingham, who signed him for £100,000 in March 2002.
“It’s a case of getting match fitness, and it’s been great to get back out onto the pitch for the first time in seven months.
“It was certainly the worst injury I’ve had in my career, but as I said, I’ve been looked after really well, and I was always confident I’d be back.
“Just like with my move back to Huddersfield, I’ve had to be patient, but I’ve put in some hard graft and I’m heading in the right direction now.”
Johnson is confident Town can end their wait for promotion this season, but accepts he has a tough task to cement a regular slot, with Scott Arfield, Oscar Gobern, Tommy Miller and latest arrival Anton Robinson all pushing for places.
“We’ve lost a couple of players, but the manager has added plenty to the squad, and we all know we have to perform on a regular basis.
“That’s always been the case at the clubs I’ve played for, and it has to be the way, so I’m ready to fight for my place!”