Mark Reynolds will be relieved in more ways than one if he makes it into the Aberdeen starting line-up on Saturday as a determination to play through the pain barrier very nearly cost him any chance of Scottish Cup success this season.
The experienced defender has spent most of the current campaign struggling on through matches despite the discomfort caused by a hernia problem that he feared would always require a surgical solution.
Reynolds finally had to gave in and have that operation last month, but only after doing further damage to himself during the 1-0 defeat on the plastic pitch at Hamilton.
It actually turned out to be the perfect timing as he has recovered swiftly, is fully fit for the first time in a long time and determined to prove it in Saturday’s semi-final against Hibs at Hampden Park.
“My fitness is better than it’s been for the last four months. It was good to get the operation,” admits Reynolds. “You don’t realise how much you’re carrying it till you get it properly fixed.
“I had a hernia on one side for about four and a half months and just played through it and against Hamilton the other side went and we couldn’t put it off any longer.
“Actually it probably couldn’t have come at a better time with the end of the season coming up.
“Had I had the operation any later then I would have missed the European games as well as potentially a Scottish Cup semi-final and a final. I’m glad to be back in amongst it and try and fight my way back into the team.”
Reynolds already has a League Cup winners medal as a member of the Aberdeen team that defeated Inverness Caley Thistle three years ago but views a Scottish Cup win as an even more significant event in the club’s revival.
The former Motherwell defender, signed initially on a loan deal from Sheffield Wednesday by Craig Brown, a move that was made permanent, has seen the team totally transformed from those early days but he wants more tangible success now.
He said: “There’s been a marked difference from when I joined the club until where we are now. There’s also a massive difference in terms of expectation.
“When I came in we were just trying to get top-six football and that was the aim, to consolidate.
“Craig Brown was steering the ship and trying to get us back up to where we belong and where we are now.
“Since then we’ve seen a gradual progression and the squad has got stronger with better players coming in every season.
“This club has never been the biggest but we’ve always had quality players and that’s where we’re at just now.
“We’re pushing; we won the League Cup, we’re in semi-finals and finals and we consistently finish in the top two in the league and we want to keep that going.
“I think we have a core of boys who remember winning the League Cup and saw what it meant to the city and how good it felt for everybody at the club.
“It would be great to relive that. You see all the photographs in the Pittodrie corridors of all the great Aberdeen teams who’ve won trophies.
“We have one up there and we’d love to have more as that what you are remembered for.”