Jon Meades is in a hurry to begin paying Oxford United back for their support after seven months on the sidelines.
The midfielder is back in full training, giving United the rare luxury of a senior squad without any injuries.
It is the first time in several seasons United’s treatment room has been empty ahead of a first-team game and comes at a useful time, with promotion rivals Burton Albion visiting tomorrow.
Meades was the club’s first summer signing last May, but a serious ankle injury sustained in pre-season means he has yet to make his competitive debut.
A lack of match conditioning is likely to rule both the Welshman and Andy Whing out of caretaker boss Mickey Lewis’ sselection against the Brewers, but a return is expected shortly.
For Meades, who turned 22 last Sunday, there is a determination to make up for lost time.
He said: “I want to try and make an impact as soon as I come back.
“I definitely want to give something back to the club, because they’ve been brilliant with me.
“They have given me everything I’ve needed in the rehab, which has been vital to come back.
“I do want to pay it back, especially to the staff and the boys because they’ve been really good with me.
“I need some match fitness, but I’d like to say I’m in contention from now.
“As soon as the staff and Mickey think I’m available, then I’m ready to go.”
Meades caught United’s attention last season in a loan spell at AFC Wimbledon, where he was young player of the year.
After getting a taste of first-team football, a prolonged spell on the sidelines has made this season a testing time.
But the former Cardiff City trainee was beaming yesterday at the thought of playing again and he believes the return of several players in quick succession can only help United’s promotion chances.
“Last season I was playing every week – and not doing that has been really hard,” he said.
“I hate watching because all I want to do is play. Saturdays will be 100 times better now.
“It’s happened at a good time. The boys who are playing know they need to play well to stay in the team.”