Leon Britton starts his 12th season as a Swansea City player today confident that summer surgery has restored him to full working order.
Britton has racked up over 430 appearances since first joining Swansea from West Ham on loan way back in December 2002.
The 30-year-old midfielder has played in every season since for Swansea, despite a short interlude at Sheffield United whom he joined in August 2010.
Britton returned to south-west Wales the following January and remains an integral cog of the Swansea squad which re-gathers for the start of pre-season training today.
And having undergone a double operation in Germany last month, Britton is keen to get back on the training pitch.
“ I had the operation three-and-a-half weeks ago in Germany, done by a lady over there who is world renowned,” said Britton.
“It went well and literally six days later I was back on the training ground working on building up the muscles around the area where it’s been repaired.
“I’ve been in training for the last two weeks really and on the training pitch the last three days, running, twisting and turning like we’d normally do.
“I’m pretty much fully fit.”
Britton has pretty much seen it all in his time at Swansea, the club rising through the ranks from League Two to Premier League club.
But this term will certainly provide novelty value, the first time that the South Wales derby will be staged in the top flight.
Asked about pending derby dates with newly-promoted Cardiff, Britton replied: “We are looking forward to it, we’ve missed it the last couple of years.
“We’ve had some brilliant wins and some heart breaking defeats and they are great occasions.
“We all looked at the fixture list, whether it be the players, the fans and even the staff at both clubs.
“With it being in the Premier League it just shows how well Welsh football is going at the minute and it’s great to see we are playing a Welsh derby in the Premier League – they’re great games to be involved in.”
And Britton admits there has been plenty of summer banter flying around since the fixtures were announced last month.
The derbies have been pencilled in for November 2 (Cardiff City Stadium) and February 8 (Liberty Stadium), although the announcement of their live televised fixtures next Monday might change that slightly.
“I’ve already had people telling me, the builders at the training ground saying make sure you tell them foreign boys what this derby’s about, you let them know it’s important,” smiled Britton.
“I think they get the idea of what it is about, but it’s down to the boys who have been here for a number of years and have played in the games to let them know how much it means to the players – but to the supporters it means everything.
“When I first came to the club Cardiff were in a higher league, then we got to the Championship and were level pegging; now we’ve been in the Premier League the last two years.
“I think it’s good competition, obviously both teams want to stay in the League.
“It’s not just about Swansea-Cardiff but there is an extra bit of competition.”