Dennis Politic is willing to prove himself all over again at Wanderers after completing a year-long comeback from injury.
The exciting winger made his playing return for the Whites in their 1-0 win at Barrow on Saturday, 12 months on from tearing his cruciate ligament in a pre-season friendly at Loughborough University.
Bolton fans have been willing the homegrown talent through his rehabilitation and are eager to see him back in League One, where he lit up a desperate season under Keith Hill in 2019/20.
Politic is setting steady goals, however, and knows he will have to work his way into Ian Evatt’s plans over the coming weeks.
“That’s the thing, being a year out isn’t easy, it is a long time being off the pitch,” he told The Bolton News.
“A new manager has come in, there are loads of new team-mates that I haven’t had chance to play with yet, so I need to get back into the rhythm of playing and be patient.
“I can’t expect to come back and be as sharp as I was before right away, I need to build fitness up and make sure I don’t get injured again.”
Travelling Wanderers fans gave Politic a rapturous welcome as he came on to the pitch and Politic says he has appreciated every message he has been sent over the past year.
“It felt unbelievable. It was a really happy moment for me,” he said of his entrance against Barrow. “It has been a tough injury and the fans have been brilliant with me, supported me all the way. I want to thank them for that and for the reception that I got.
“My faith in God has been a rock, it has been most important. My family, my girlfriend, they have helped me so much, and staff, team-mates, and the supporters have all helped me along the way so I am happy to be back. Hopefully now I can work to get into the team and start producing.”
After the “worst day” of his life at Loughborough, Politic had an operation last September and embarked on several months of gruelling work with the club’s medical staff in the gym, returning to light training duties shortly before the end of last season.
He believes, however, that the hardest part of getting back into first team contention at Wanderers has been mental, rather than physical.
“As soon as the injury happened the hardest work is in the mind,” he said. “There was a way back, people have done it before, but the acute phase after the operation is the toughest point because that is when you get pain, sleepless nights, and then as you get through it you start getting used to being injured. You see little signs of process, getting off the crutches, then you are back jogging, then you are back with the team. You see light at the end of the tunnel.”