John Swift admits the 2017/18 season was “horrible” after being hampered by five separate hamstring injuries.
The midfield playmaker was a key member of the Reading side which reached the 2017 play-off final, but his stop-start campaign since ended having made just 17 Championship starts as the Royals finished 20th.
Swift, 22, began the season in the side before being forced off 25 minutes into the fourth league game away at Preston North End.
That proved to be the start of a forgettable campaign which saw him constantly battling with muscle injuries before eventually regaining full fitness for the run-in.
And he admits it has been hard to cope with.
“I’ve had five injuries, three on my left leg and two on my right, in the same place on both hamstrings,” explained Swift.
“It’s been horrible.
“I played nowhere near as many games as I obviously wanted to at the beginning of the season and for me personally, it’s just put a dampener on anything.
“I felt 100% when I came back the first time and then it goes once and you think OK, it’s not too bad. The scan didn’t look bad and I’ll be back outside in two weeks and back playing in three.
“Then two weeks go and I do it again and obviously I’m worrying, the physio’s worrying, trying to figure out what’s going wrong and then it goes again and that’s when you’ve got to start looking at different options.”
He added: “I went over to Ireland and did everything over there, went and saw three or four different people.
“I’ve sort of changed the way I run. Not a lot, but different parts of my body were taking more load and that was putting pressure on my hamstrings so I’ve strengthened both sides of my legs.
“I do a lot of maintenance in the gym, core whenever I can, my running mechanics whenever I can and train at 100% as well to get my fitness up so there’s a lot I’m doing.
“I just need to do everything now to stay on top of it to prevent it coming back.”
Swift played 45 games in 2016/17, including three for the England Under-21s in the summer’s European Championships.
But with no international commitments this year, the former Chelsea man is currently enjoying a spell away from the field before pre-season with Reading begins next month.
And Swift feels the extended campaign last time around could have played a part in why he struggled with injury this year.
“I think it’s hard to put a finger on the exact reason but I think it definitely had an impact,” he said.
“Last season was my first full season in the Championship so I played the majority of the games.
“I had an ankle injury that didn’t help as well and then I went straight and played most of the games when I was away on international duty.
“I came back and had 10 days off and then was straight back into pre-season.
“I felt fine going into it and after my hamstring went once I came back and it felt good. Then it just went again and then again and there’s nothing I could do really.”
He added: “Mentally it’s done well for me I think because I could’ve easily after the third or fourth time just given up on it and just accepted that it’s never going to be alright.
“But I’ve got back fit, I’ve tried to come back three or four times and I know that whatever happens in the future, nothing can be any worse what than what happened this season.”