Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas is hoping to reignite his career at Middlesbrough after a harrowing spell with Bundesliga club FC Cologne.
Kalas didn't make a single appearance during the first half of the season with the German club in a wasted six months for the Czech Republic international.
The 21-year-old has returned to British shores in January for his third loan spell in four years, having joined Championship promotion contenders Middlesbrough, for whom he made his debut in the goalless draw with Reading.
Formerly of Sigma Olomouc, Kalas has made four professional appearances for Chelsea since moving to the club in 2010, most famously starting the 2-0 Premier League win at Liverpool in April, his most recent appearance for the Blues.
Now facing a new challenge in the north east, Kalas is ready to restart his career in the knowledge his performances will be key to one day becoming a regular at Stamford Bridge.
"In the last year and a half, I can count the number of games I have played on one hand," said Kalas. "There weren't many, so I hope this is the start of a better future.
"It didn't go the way I would have wanted [at Cologne]. I had zero games and zero minutes. I'm just pleased it's over to be honest – everyone can imagine what it was like for a player who wasn't playing and who wants to play. I went there on loan to play, but it didn't work out well.
"I hope the fact I played the first game here is a sign of things to come. It's a good start and hopefully I can improve myself. I always try to improve myself with the training side of things, but it is very hard to do that if you are not playing games."
Chelsea have been widely criticised for the amount of players currently out on loan, with 27 first-team or academy representatives currently on spells away from west London, given the lack of academy graduates who progress to the first team.
Kalas is one of three Chelsea players at 'Boro, with Patrick Bamford and Kenneth Omeruo both at the Riverside Stadium, and the centre-back has defended the club's loan policy.
"I think the people at Chelsea like what Middlesbrough do," he insisted.
"I'd already heard about Middlesbrough because I could have come here before, but I chose to go to Germany instead. That didn't go as well as I thought it would, but it meant that when Middlesbrough were interested again, I already knew what the club was all about.
"Kenneth is here in his second year and has done very well, and Patrick is here too after his successful loans.
"That just shows you that the people at Chelsea must be really pleased with the way Middlesbrough improve their players. It was in my mind to come here, and it quickly became clear that it was also in Chelsea's minds too."