LIAM Fox felt a searing pain in his knee and the Livingston player knew he was in trouble.
The midfield maverick had suffered knocks before during his career but he knew right away that this was different.
Liam admits that he had resigned himself to a long period on the sidelines.
He had suffered knee ligament damage but thankfully the injury wasn’t quite as bad as originally feared but it still robbed Livingston of his services for four months.
But two weeks ago the 25-year-old crossed the touchline for the first time since his injury nightmare began in a bounce game against Airdrie.
An early crunching tackle on his knee during the game gave him the confidence to realise that he was back on the road to recovery.
Indeed he made a fleeting appearance from the bench at Broadwood in the match against Clyde two weeks ago.
And last Saturday his rehabilitation was complete as he started his first match since December against Morton at Almondvale.
“I feel fine now and I am enjoying being back in the team,” beamed Fox.
“I took a heavy knock on it in a bounce game a few weeks back but in hindsight that is probably the best thing that could have happened to me as that gave me confidence in my knee again.
“When I was injured I knew straight away it was a bad injury.
“However, injuries is something you have to live with as a football player.
“I knew it would take a lot of hard work to get back to full fitness but I put the hours and the time in and, thankfully, I’m back quicker than I expected.
“The worst thing about being injured is watching the boys playing on a Saturday.
“Monday to Friday you still see the boys and you are involved with them during the training sessions.
”However, when matchday comes you have to sit in the stand and watch then lads go out to win and that can be difficult as you watch them do the business.”
The burden of Fox’s injury was carried somewhat by midfield partner Murray Davidson who has risen from hopeful prospect last year to key man and arguably player of the year for Livingston this time around.
And Fox admits he has been massively impressed by the excellent form of his 20-year-old midfield mate.
He said: “Murray has been great this season.
“However, I’ve known since I first joined Livingston he was going to become a very good and influential player.
“He had a bit of bother with injury when I first arrived here but over the last year he has developed into a fantastic player.
“If he keeps learning and improving then he can play anywhere he wants to, that's how highly I rate him.”
Livingston have been one of the season’s surprise packages.
Tipped as relegation fodder at the start of play the Lions topped the league after the first round of fixtures and were third at the start of play on Saturday.
The disappointing defeat to Morton saw them drop to fourth.
However, Fox reckons the West Lothian club can use the positives from an excellent season as building blocks for a genuine title assault in the new season.
He added: “We are all disappointed with how Saturday went for us and I don’t think we have played that poorly in a while.
“Morton are a big and strong side and play to their strengths and are very direct.
“They are good at using their size and directness to put sides under pressure but I don’t think we handled it very well.
“I would agree our chances of winning the league are gone now but even before Saturday the chances were slim. We could have won all of our games and we’d still have been needing other teams to do us a couple of favours to catch St Johnstone.
“We hope the good experiences this season can help us next year mount a strong title challenge and we’ll work hard in preseason and see where that takes us.
“The First Division is a league where it really is all or nothing with just one promotion place. It is the only league in the country with just one team going up and as a player it would be fairer and better to have at least a promotion play-off for the side who finishes second in the First Division every year.
It would be great for the league and keep it exciting until the last day and I’d be all for it.
“This year has been a good one for Livingston as we weren’t fancied by anyone at the start of the season but we’ve surprised a lot of people.
“We have the nucleus of a very good squad here and all we need is a bit of stability.”