Perth A-League defender Alex Grant has opened up on last season's health and injury troubles, revealing a dash to hospital during the most trying period of his career.
Grant will line up in the heart of the Glory's defence in Saturday's clash with newcomers Western United in Geelong.
Trying to contain United duo Besart Berisha and Scott McDonald is daunting, but nothing compared to Grant's challenges last season.
Grant struggled to walk at times while battling a mysterious groin injury during the early and middle parts of Perth's campaign.
But his nightmare worsened with a serious bout of glandular fever on the eve of his intended playing return.
The illness robbed him of the chance to feature in the Glory's finals campaign.
"We played Sydney on a Thursday night, and we trained on the day of the game. We had a light session in the morning and I felt absolutely awful," Grant said.
"They sent me to hospital that night for some tests.
"Then they sent me back to Perth, and I deteriorated when I got back and I ended up having to spend the night in hospital in Joondalup because my condition had worsened and it had started to affect my liver.
"My white blood cell count was really low and my liver function test was all over the shop. It was pretty scary.
"I was bed-ridden for three weeks after that happened. I couldn't do any physical exercise for three months."
Grant revealed he lost 5kg during the ordeal and he spent much of the pre-season rebuilding his body.
But his perseverance paid off, with the 25-year-old saying it was a dream to return in last week's season opener against Brisbane.
Grant said the groin issue he tried to play through last season was also a huge battle.
"It got to the point where it completely ruined me," Grant said.
"I couldn't walk without pain. Every time I sat down or stood up, I was in pain."
Grant said he broke down another three times in training while trying to prove his fitness and hoped for better luck this season.
Saturday's match will be Western United's first home game, and Glory players are embracing the challenge of spoiling the party.
United started their A-League life last week with a 1-0 win over the Phoenix in Wellington, with Berisha scoring the winner.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Western United FC will look to become just the second team in A-League history to win their first two games on debut; Gold Coast United began their tenure with a three-game winning streak in 2009
* Perth have lost only one of their past seven games in Victoria (W4, D2), and are undefeated in their past four (W2, D2)
* United made just five open-play crosses in round one - the fewest of any team - however, their 60 per cent success rate from those crosses was by far the best.
Australian Associated Press