Dominic Samuel admits he appreciates football more than ever after a frustrating injury-plagued spell on the sidelines.
Samuel's not featured for the first team since an anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up against old club Reading back in August 2018 at Ewood Park.
It's been a long road back for the frontman, whose only action has been with Billy Barr's Under-23s side this season.
The 25-year-old scored twice against Brighton & Hove Albion at the end of August and bagged a hat-trick in the emphatic victory against Tottenham Hotspur at Leyland earlier this week.
The forward looked sharp against the Londoners and admits that he's delighted to reap the rewards after returning from his injury hell.
“I feel great, especially after being out for so long last season, which was a hard time for me," he confessed to iFollow Rovers this week.
“I appreciate football more and I’ve started to enjoy it again. With every game I play I get more confident, just from playing.
“I’m so happy to be back playing and fit. Scoring goals at whatever level is a real confidence boost, even for the Under-23s.
“I got a hat-trick the other night and each goal was one with a striker’s instinct.
“With every goal you score you get more confident, but it was the second goal of the night that I enjoyed the most.
“The first few games for the Under-23s was more about fitness, but as a striker you just want to get back out there playing games.
“My mindset is that the fitness will come, but I just always want to score goals. The feeling after scoring is even sweeter now.
“There have been dark times over the last year or so, mainly due to over-thinking. It’s not always going to be a straight route in football. There’s always setbacks but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
“You have to keep working, keep staying positive and the time will come where you do get back to where you were," the striker added.
“When you’re told that you’ll be out for six to nine months, you’re always going to be down in the dumps.
“When the boys are doing well and winning it’s really tough to watch, but the hard work always pays off."
Normally one of the most positive players around the Senior Training Centre, Samuel adds that it was tough during the months of rehabilitation, watching on in Rovers' first season back in the Championship.
“The hardest thing for me was mentally getting over the injury and it wasn’t always positive," he said.
"The first month or so I was really low because the injury came out of nowhere
“The boys were hear to help and also my friends and family back home. You need to open up to people because bottling things up makes things worse.
“I opened up a lot to my dad. He said, ‘you can either sit here and cry and feel sorry for yourself, or you can get back out there, do better and come back better.’”