Harte thrilled to be playing

Republic of Ireland defender Ian Harte is thrilled to be back playing for Levante, having feared at one point he might never get the opportunity again.

Republic of Ireland defender Ian Harte is thrilled to be back playing for Levante, having feared at one point he might never get the opportunity again.

The former Leeds full-back made his first appearance of the Primera Liga season against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend after recovering from an operation on his ankle.

Harte did not last the whole match, being replaced by winger Laurent Robert during the second half of the goalless draw, but the fact he was playing at all will have come as a relief following his troublesome injury.

"The cyst that I had in my ankle was difficult to remove, but luckily everything has gone well and I have recovered," he said in Marca.

"I was scared I would not return, but I was in good hands."

Harte, who underwent surgery in August, had looked ready for a return to action earlier in the season, and was even named on the bench for November's match against Getafe.

But former Levante coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro opted against using Harte, and it was not until new boss Abel Resino took over last week that the 29-year-old got his chance.

"It is normal that you are not counted on after a long injury. In addition, it was complicated to get my place back off (Luis Manuel) Rubiales and I need more time and competitive matches to get back to 100 percent," he said.

Levante are currently 17th in La Liga, two points above the relegation zone, heading into this weekend's tough home match with Sevilla.

Levante won promotion from the second division last season, and Harte admits they now need to step up a gear if they are to ensure they do not suffer an immediate return.

"This is a better team than the one from two years ago, but we must be more aggressive in the second half of the league," he said.
Source PRESS ASSOCIATION