Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele says taking an enforced break has helped restore his confidence after a difficult spell.
The 20-year-old was ruled out after tearing a muscle during the 5-2 defeat by Reading last month, his last appearance for the club.
"To play 35 games in five months has been hard," Steele told BBC Tees.
"It took its toll on me, I lost a bit of confidence, and I wasn't myself, the break came at the right time."
The England under-21 international added: "I got my head down, away for a week with my girlfriend, that was nice, because I think I needed.
"Other than that, I've been working hard in the gym on my rehabilitation, I've been coming in early, really grafted and I'm sort of knocking on the door now."
Paul Smith was drafted in as emergency cover from Nottingham Forest, with both Steele and fellow first-team keeper Danny Coyne absent.
However Newton Aycliffe-born Steele is now ready to push Smith, who has made 10 appearances for the Teessiders, for the final two games of the campaign.
"It was quite a nasty injury, but thankfully the medical team have worked wonders with me," Steele said.
"I got little bit of rest, I've worked on my rehab, I've been training now for four to five days, I've got a reserve game in and I feel good."