AARON vandenBerg has had a pretty rough run in recent years.
He’s managed just seven games over three seasons, struggling to get his foot right.
But during the hardships, his mind has stayed strong, as he remains fully focussed on the comeback – the inevitable one at that.
“Definitely, there’s been difficult periods … but I don’t tend to dwell on it and think negatively about it,” vandenBerg told Melbourne Media.
“Obviously it can be harsh at times, but I’ve always felt I can get back.
“[I’m] not looking back at what I’ve missed.
“Mainly just trying to get ready for day one of pre-season and make sure I don’t repeat what happened this year, hopefully.”
The 27-year-old has clearly spent a lot of time on the sidelines and says not being able to contribute to the team is the most frustrating part of all.
“It’s difficult getting into that more senior age now where you can have an impact on the young players and the group, and not being out there on the training track can be really difficult at times,” vandenBerg said.
“Obviously it’s been a difficult season and all you want to do is get out there and help and you can’t.
“But there’s no point stewing over what’s happened over the last three years.
“I know it’s only been seven games but we’re in a pretty positive mindset about where we can go moving forward and then hopefully it’ll be a lot more than that in coming seasons.”
Although vandenBerg has had on-going trouble with his foot, the rest of his body has remained healthy, holding him in a strong position to return to the field next season.
“The one benefit of not playing a whole heap over the last three years is my body hasn’t taken too many knocks and bangs,” he said.
“Just getting this one injury right should then lead me into having some good football ahead of me for a long period of time.”
And that injury appears to be on track, with the hard-at-it midfielder taking some big steps forward in his recovery.
“I’ve run nearly 16 times in a row now without having a setback, so it’s really positive,” vandenBerg said.
“Over the last two months I’m sort of building up to almost some game style running now and then we’ll look to do some transitioning stuff over the off-season.
“Hopefully that’ll leave me in a really good spot come day one of pre-season.”
vandenBerg is slowly getting back to his best and is set to benefit from the addition of the club’s new performance manager, Darren Burgess.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him,” vandenBerg said.
“He’s obviously got a glowing resume and we all know what he is capable of so it will be fantastic to get him in and get started with him.”
While vandenBerg will still have to be careful with his troublesome foot and monitor it throughout his career, he’s confident it won’t restrict him from having an impact at the top level.
“We’re going to have to be smart about it, certainly, and learn from past mistakes where we can,” he said.
“I’ll still be able to get plenty of training under my belt and do everything I need to do to perform on game day.”
And with the pre-season approaching, vandenBerg is in as good a position as he’s ever been.
“This is the first time I’ve ever run in an off-season,” he said.
“Five years at the club now and I’ve either had operations or been in a moonboot.
“So, it’ll be the first time I’m in with the main group before Christmas which will be great and hopefully lead into being pretty fit.”