ALI Al Habsi has set his sights on reclaiming the Wigan Athletic No.1 jersey after emerging from his injury nightmare.
The Oman international made a welcome return to the bench at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, his first appearance of the campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery over the summer.
Al Habsi was troubled by his shoulder for much of last season, with Joel Robles taking over between the sticks for the run-in.
But after going under the knife in the summer to correct the problem for good, the 31-year-old is now fully fit – and desperate to make up for lost time.
“It was fantastic to be back – a great feeling,” Al Habsi told the Evening Post.
“I was so happy to be back in there with the team after so long out of the picture.
“It was great to play 90 minutes for the Development Squad on Monday, and to then make the bench for Wednesday was fantastic.
But I am not there yet – I have to fight now for my place back because Scott Carson has been playing fantastic football for the team this year and he has fully deserved his place.
“It’s always difficult to try to force your way into the side halfway through a season, but the most important thing is I am ready for the team if it needs me.
“I’ve been in this position before, both at Bolton and here at Wigan, and I know the score.
“All I can do is keep doing what I’m doing, and hope that I get my chance to show what I can do.”
Al Habsi has found it hard over the last few months, looking in from the outside after being undisputed first choice from virtually the day he joined from Bolton in 2010.
But he received great support on the training ground from the likes of Carson, Mike Pollitt and Lee Nicholls, which he says aided his recovery.
“I would like to thank a number of people for helping me back – all the physios at Wigan, the goalkeeping staff, Polly, Lee, Cars – from the first day to now,” he recognised.
“It’s been so difficult because it’s been my first really serious injury of my career, in 12 years of football.
“But I’m back now, and I’m raring to go.
“I’m hoping to come back better than before, I certainly feel stronger and fitter.
“It’s just a matter of playing some games now and feeling that feeling of playing matches – and I can’t wait for that.”
l Latics have confirmed tickets for the original game at Sheffield Wednesday will be valid for the rearranged game.
Alternatively, supporters who purchased for this game alone can claim a refund if so required.
All refunds must be claimed before the rearranged fixture, which will be announced in due course.