Aaron Shingler: Wales back-rower aims to shine after fearing for career
Wales back-rower Aaron Shingler feared a knee injury would force him to retire, but the Scarlet is confident he will now be fit for the World Cup.
Shingler, 31, has not played since suffering the injury during the Scarlets' Pro14 final loss to Leinster in May 2018.
But now he is back with Wales' squad as they prepare for the World Cup with a training camp in Switzerland.
"I'd say I'm nearly where I want to be," Shingler said.
"For eight months, I was questioning whether the leg would be good enough. Luckily enough it is. So I'm very happy to just be able to train.
"A couple of more weeks training with Wales and I'll hopefully get an opportunity. If that opportunity comes, then I feel like I'll be ready.
"I want to play for Wales and the Scarlets, so I just keep pushing."
Before his injury, Shingler had established himself as an important player for Wales and the Scarlets thanks to his dynamic displays in the back row.
However, the 17-cap forward missed his country's Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year as his injury robbed him of an entire season.
During his lengthy absence, Shingler admits he thought that he might not make a full recovery.
"It was massively difficult. Up until the eight-month mark, I was thinking that I wasn't going to come back," he added.
"I just couldn't function daily. I'd have one good session and then the next day I wouldn't be able to train.
"When I came into camp, I was a little bit concerned with how I was going to cope but I'm feeling really fit and strong at the moment."
Wales' players are in the midst of a gruelling training camp in the Swiss Alps, with the extent of their physical exertions exemplified by Ross Moriarty's Instagram post which showed the back-rower vomiting pitchside with the caption 'No pain no gain'.
The squad's motto in Fiesch is 'Live high, train low', with the players living 2,300m above sea level and training 1,000m lower as they aim to boost their fitness levels and prepare for the energy-sapping humidity of Japan during the World Cup.
"I remember the first night I was up there, trying to get to sleep, and my heart was beating a lot harder than normal, which is unusual," Shingler said of the Swiss training camp.
"You get up for the toilet in the night, and you have to climb a little bit of stairs, and my heart is beating again.
"It just feels like you're working when you're sleeping. So that's what it's like up the top."
Shingler is one of 42 players in an extended Wales squad in Switzerland, and that will be trimmed to a final 31 for the World Cup in September.
The back row is arguably the most competitive area of the team, with head coach Warren Gatland likely to pick five out of Shingler, Moriarty, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, Aaron Wainwright and James Davies.
"Unfortunately, it's very fierce and I might only get one opportunity," said Shingler.
"In training, I have to impress every day, work hard every day and keep my fingers crossed that I get to go."