Mason Bennett says he is “fit and flying” and can’t wait for his return to Pride Park Stadium to prove himself while he helps to give fans a reason to cheer.
By the time the new season rolls around, it will have been a year since the 21-year-old last ran out at Pride Park Stadium for the first-team.
A loan spell, sandwiched by injuries, has kept him away but he is promising an exciting return. That begins with a solid pre-season, one he is thriving in under the new coaching staff.
“If you aren’t looking forward to the start of the season, you are in the wrong sport,” he said with a smile. “I can’t wait to get back out at Pride Park.”
“I’ve had great support on social media from the fans and I want to show that support back, show them what I can do and get them cheering.”
He added: “This pre-season has been very, very intense which I haven’t been that used to with previous managers, but it’s working out well for me.
“I’m flying, I feel fit and I think this can be a good foundation for me to really kick on this season.”
With the frustration of two separate injuries last season behind him the forward is even more determined to have a big season for the Rams.
Bennett was back to work weeks before the squad’s first day back, working tirelessly with the physios to ensure that when that day came he was ready to go with the rest of the squad.
With his blinders on and despite the setbacks, there has never been a doubt in Bennett’s mind that he will reach all the expectations both he and others set of him when he made his debut at 15. It also helps to have a solid team around him.
“To get me going again I don’t need much telling, I know I have got a great future ahead of me, I just need to work hard and keep grafting,” Bennett, who turns 22 on Sunday, said.
“I’m taking each day as it comes and giving it 100 percent. I don’t mind coming off the training field feeling rundown and tired. I know I’ve got to just get back up and go again.
“I have great support behind the scenes with the staff here and my family so I think I’m in a great place.
He added: “Tom Huddlestone has been giving me good advice and is telling me this is my chance to show what I can do for this club.
“He sent me a message after the first couple of days and it really meant a lot to me. He was saying I’m doing well, to keep kicking on and show the gaffer what I can do.”
Saturday’s opponents, Notts County, got a glimpse of exactly what he can do at the start of the year. Bennett was sent to Meadow Lane on loan in January and was showered in praise during his time.
Unfortunately, that time ended early when he sustained a season-ending hamstring injury.
“Before I left here to go the lads said: ‘You go there and show them what you can do’.
“I went with that mindset and gave them 100 percent, so it was nice to hear those things but unfortunately to was cut short after just 10 days.
“I think it will be a good challenge for us going there because they play very direct football but also they have some great players and it will be a great test for us leading into the season.”