Gareth Barry says the feeling of being involved in first-team action can’t be bettered after he stepped out on to The Hawthorns turf for the first time since March to help Slaven Bilić’s Baggies to beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1.
The experienced midfielder’s months of determination to regain fitness proved worthwhile as he was thrown into the thick of Albion’s Sky Bet Championship encounter against the Owls, playing more than quarter of an hour.
And Barry enjoyed being back out in front of the Hawthorns crowd.
“It was a nice bit of light at the end of a long tunnel,” he said.
“I have never experienced that. I am grateful that the longest injury I have had has come at the age I am. For the work I have had to put in to get back, it was a nice feeling to get back on the pitch. Luckily to win the game as well - it was nice to be back in that dressing room after three points.
“The manager said after he felt they might have looked a bit fitter and been the better team on the day. They had a good few chances, especially in the first ten minutes and they started the second half well.
“We controlled the game first half after we scored the goal but they played a lot of good stuff in between so credit to them for their performance but if you are going to be successful they are the games you still need to win when you are probably not at your best.
“The first five or ten minutes back on the pitch you can’t get your breath because nothing is like being out there in the real action but suddenly you find your feet again and you enjoy being back out there. I enjoyed it.
“The games are always tricky after the breaks as performances can sometimes be different so it is nice to get the three points and hopefully the lads can get back in their rhythm. It is going to be a really busy period and we are going to need everyone in the squad so everybody has got to be ready.”