Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana skipper Steven Pienaar has spoken of the most difficult period of his career as he sets his sights on a start for Tottenham Hotspur in their UEFA Europa League clash with Russian side Rubin Kazan on Thursday night.
Pienaar is likely to start for Spurs, the first time he will have played for the side since may as he suffered persistent injury problems, most notably with his groin.
“It's been the most difficult period of my career. When you join a new team, you want to start fully fit but I got injured quite early and it slowed down my progress,” he told the Daily Mail.
He admits that he rushed back to full training too soon, which meant he suffered set-backs that have left him frustrated and down the pecking order at Spurs.
“Before the [groin] operation we thought we would wait and see how the groin injury developed but it just got worse,” he says. “I had the operation, things were going well, but then I had two setbacks. Sometimes when you try to get back early, that happens.
“But I'm over the nightmare now so hopefully I can get some minutes. When you get injured, you fall down the pecking order. You are basically the bottom of the pile.”
He is likely to get a run against Kazan, the former team of compatriot Macbeth Sibaya, and says he will be patient as he seeks a permanent first-team place.
“You have to make sure you get fit, be patient and work hard. I have been working hard and now I'll try to win a place in the team.”