Toni Kroos is set to make his long-awaited return for Real Madrid when they take on Sheriff in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The midfielder has not played a game for Madrid since early May, when his La Liga season was brought to an abrupt end because of a positive COVID-19 test, but he did recover in time to feature with Germany at the European Championships.
Unfortunately, just two weeks into pre-season, Kroos was diagnosed with a groin injury that kept him out of Real's first eight games of the new campaign, but the 31-year-old has made a full recovery and is part of the squad to take on Moldovan champions Sheriff on Tuesday, 141 days after his last appearance for the club.
Speaking to Goal in the build-up to the game, Kroos confessed that he spent months forcing himself to play through pain before finally accepting that he could not go on during pre-season.
"I'm happy because today I was able to do my third training session with the team without being in pain after six or seven months with pain, so it's a very good feeling," he said.
"I have not played in three months, the last game was on June 29, at the European Championship, so I have to gain a little rhythm. But the most important thing is that it doesn't bother me much.
"From now on we can start talking about the games. We have reached that point where I wanted to be. It's been almost eight weeks now, but all the time during the last five or six months I knew that it would come to the point where I would have to stop because it has been a long time.
"I started feeling discomfort in March or so and knew there was something in my groin. From there I knew that if I continued playing I would get to the point of not being able to anymore, but it was very difficult to stop because I had to play the quarter-finals and the semi-finals of the Champions League, then the European Championship.
"It was very difficult for me to stop because of this. Then I told myself that I was going on vacation, to see if in those three weeks it would improve with rest and all that. Later, when I returned to training in Madrid, I tried and saw that I had not improved a bit and that I had to stop."