DANNY HIGGINBOTHAM will be determined to emerge from what was a frustrating season in which first team opportunities were limited at the Britannia Stadium after he had recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
The former Manchester United defender eventually spent some time out on loan at npower Championship club Nottingham Forest and played a part in helping them to steer clear of relegation.
It had been twelve months prior to that when Higginbotham experienced contrasting emotions; the elation of scoring the winner that secured Stoke City’s place at Wembley followed a couple of weeks later by the despair of his injury setback.
It was his powerfully struck free kick which clinched the Potters their place at Wembley with an FA Cup quarter final triumph over West Ham United and he scored again from another free kick six days later in the Premier League win over Newcastle.
But Higginbotham’s luck changed when an innocuous challenge in the Premier League meeting with Chelsea left him nursing the cruciate ligament injury and facing a long road to recovery which lasted until November when he made his comeback.
His first full game back was in the Europa League triumph over Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel and it was indeed on the European front that he saw much of his early action after proving that he was fully recovered from the knee problem.
Higginbotham is one of a number of players at the Britannia Stadium who were formerly with Sunderland and he is another member of the squad who is now in his second spell at the Club after a short stay in the North East.
After emerging through the youth programme at Manchester United, he then enjoyed successful spells with Derby County and Southampton before moving to the Potters for his initial spell at the start of the 2006-07 season.