Ben Pearson has admitted that being forced to miss a large chunk of the 2011/2012 season through illness has actually helped to make him a better player.
The 2013 Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year was frustrated after being sidelined with glandular fever during an important stage of his development, but he channeled his energy positively to return to action better than ever.
Not only did he impress for Paul McGuinness' Academy side but he forced himself into the Under-21s at the end of the campaign and started the final victory over Tottenham at Old Trafford.
"Last season was hard," the busy midfielder conceded to MUTV. "I started off on the bench a lot and then I got a serious illness that kept me out for four or five months. I got back, worked hard and got into the team. Since then, I've just progressed well. I think the illness really pushed me on even though it set me back a lot. I worked hard and progressed from there.
"I wouldn't have thought for a minute [that I could win the Player of the Year]. I was at home for three months and then in the gym for a while so I'm massively proud to have earned this. There are a lot of first-team players who have won it in the past and I'm hoping to carry that on and be one of them as well."
Pearson is pleased to be rising through the ranks alongside players who have been at the club for most of their formative years.
"A lot of us have been together since we were eight or nine," said the Oldham-born teenager. "We