Northampton Town's Kelvin Langmead says he has to "'keep proving himself" after his first start since March 2013.
The 29-year-old defender helped the Cobblers to a 1-0 win over Stevenage following knee and Achilles injuries.
Langmead told BBC Radio Northampton: "I hope I stay in the team as well but [we have] good centre halves.
"I knew coming back there would be a real battle to get into the side but maybe I've done enough to get a little run in the team."
He added: "I have to keep proving myself and keep working hard."
The former Shrewsbury and Peterborough player has been limited to just three substitute appearances last season and four in 2014-15 because of his injury problems.
But Ryan Cresswell's knee injury, sustained against Rochdale, allowed Langmead a place back in the Northampton defence to contribute to the club's third consecutive clean sheet at home.
"I'm not going to say it was an easy 90 minutes but it's been a long road for me, one I haven't particularly enjoyed, and it's a fantastic feeling to be part of a winning team," said Langmead.
"Results haven't really gone for us, and although the performances haven't been too bad, it was important today that it was all about the result. It didn't matter how we got it.
"The fans have been unbelievable the whole time I've been injured. I can't thank them enough. I'm incredibly thankful."