He wasn't expecting to be playing at this stage this season, but Alex Gilbey believes he is now finding his best form once again.
Knee surgery in February had ruled him out until, so he said, Christmas. But a remarkable recovery saw him not only ready for the first game of the season, but the first day of pre-season training in July.
Having starred in several games in the centre of the park last season prior to his surgery, Gilbey is the first to admit his performances this season have been below the high bar he set for himself. However, two excellent performances against Cambridge and Northampton have the 23-year-old back at the level he expects, and he thinks it's now time to pay back the faith both Paul Tisdale and the MK Dons fanbase have shown him in the first few months of the campaign.
"It has taken be a few weeks to get going, but now I'm feeling fully fit," he said. "I've really enjoyed it, and I'm glad the manager has stuck with me. I want to pay back his faith and show the fans I'm back. The physio has told me to put everything into it. I'm so thankful my knee has healed, I'm feeling really good and I'm starting to show my form."
Having started every league game this season, Gilbey has partnered Jordan Houghton, with either Ouss Cisse, Conor McGrandles or Ryan Watson alongside them in a midfield trio. On Saturday against Northampton, it was left to Gilbey and Houghton to marshal the midfield, which they did with consummate ease, having free reign in the centre of the park as the Cobblers struggled to keep tabs on them.
Gilbey says the relationship and understanding he has formed with Houghton is giving Dons an extra element of control in the centre of the park, allowing Houghton to defend while freeing up Gilbey to join in the attacks.
He said: "Myself and Jordan are reading each other really well. He's defensive minded, so I know he will always be there but I think when you've got a front three like we have, you sometimes don't have to be up there with them because you know there will be chances for them.
"Whether we have two or three in there, we're doing really well."