Aaron Ramsey does not intend to "jump back in" as he looks to make up for lost time by returning to the Arsenal first team after nine months on the sidelines.
The Wales midfielder, who turns 20 on Boxing Day, played 45 minutes for the reserves against Wolverhampton Wanderers this week – his first competitive action since suffering an horrific broken leg in a challenge with Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross in February.
While the former Cardiff youngster, who joined Arsenal in a £5m deal in June 2008, has set his sights firmly on a regular place in Arsène Wenger's first-team squad, Ramsey accepts he must be patient. "I have been waiting for this a long time, and I couldn't wait to get out onto the pitch," Ramsey said.
"Obviously it is great to be back playing my first game and I felt it went quite well I was blowing a bit after about 20 minutes, so I have got some work to do in that department, but I feel very good about myself."
There is an outside chance Ramsey could be included in the squad for next week's Carling Cup quarter-final against Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium.
Ramsey, though, will continue to take things one step at a time. "The only way you can get match fitness is by playing games," he said. "In training, I felt I was as fit as all the rest, but being out there proved I was a bit behind. That is to be expected and the more games I play, the more match fit I am going to get.
"I have another few reserve games planned, with 60 minutes and then a full game – then I can try to fight for my place again. I am not going to jump back in, it is going to take a bit of time. But as soon as I feel I am match fit, I am going to try to get back into the starting XI."
Ramsey maintains there are no psychological barriers to overcome. "I have seen the specialist and he was happy for me to go back into contact, so I don't have a problem with it," the Wales international said. "I had a few kicks on the leg and it felt good."
Ramsey insisted: "The tackle is out of my head now. I just want to concentrate on trying to get back into the first team and to play competitive games for them. Hopefully now I can do that in the near future. I just want to play as much as I can and try to make up for the many months I have been out."
Ramsey, though, accepts he will not be able to just walk back into the Arsenal side. The England youngster Jack Wilshere has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign, while Alex Song, Denilson and Abou Diaby, currently out with an ankle injury, have all offered back-up to skipper Cesc Fabregas. "Competition is to be expected at a club like Arsenal," said Ramsey..