Last season’s 22-goal striker Sam Vokes insists that his nine-month spell on the sidelines has strengthened him as an individual.
The 25-year-old is nearing a recall to Sean Dyche’s squad after coming through four appearances with the Development Squad without complication.
The Welshman netted on his comeback last month when featuring for 45 minutes of a 2-0 win over Carlisle United before adding a further two goals and 70 minutes in a 5-3 triumph over Sheffield United.
Vokes, who suffered the cruciate knee ligament injury in a 2-0 defeat against Leicester City at Turf Moor in March, played 90 minutes against Wigan Athletic last week and added another full fixture in the 9-1 thumping of Crewe Alexandra at Gawthorpe on Tuesday.
“It’s definitely strengthened me mentally and physically,” said Vokes during the squad’s visit to the Children’s Unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital. “I’ve been spending a lot more time in the gym and working on the injury which has helped me physically but also mentally because to come through something like that is quite tough. It’s been a good journey so far.
“It’s good. I played 45 minutes in the first one, 70 in the next, 90 minutes last week and then another 90.
“I’ve felt really good and I’m getting stronger every game. It’s important to get that confidence back because in a match situation it’s obviously a lot different to training.
“As a striker you always want to hit the back of the net and it’s nice to do that to get the confidence back.”
Vokes, who shared a 48-goal partnership in all competitions with Danny Ings last term, is relishing a return to Premier League action. The Welsh international last appeared in the top tier with Wolves in a 2-2 draw with Swansea City at Molineux in October 2011. However, Vokes acknowledges he’ll have to work hard to force an entry with Ashley Barnes in fine form while Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell provide further competition.
“It’s been tough watching but that comes with injury,” he said. “It’s part and parcel of it so you get used to it.
“It will be nice to get back in the squad and get involved with the boys. Whenever that is I’ll be looking forward to it.
“There’s a lot of competition which is only healthy for the squad. The boys have done a great job so far so I’ll have to work hard to get back in the fold.
“We’ve learnt a lot more about the Premier League and we’ve grown a lot more street-wise to it. That comes with the experience of playing and we’re looking like a strong team.”