Alan Tate set for Swansea start
Alan Tate will reap the rewards of his personal off-season training regime when he starts for Swansea at Aston Villa on Saturday.
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The 30-year-old former Manchester United defender has played in all four divisions for the Swans but he missed the majority of the club's first season in the Premier League after breaking his leg in a freak golf buggy accident just over a year ago.
Tate defied the odds to return to action with the first team in March, but was limited to four substitute appearances.
But, determined to try to force his way into Michael Laudrup's plans, while his team-mates took a break once the season ended, Tate knuckled down to getting himself back to full fitness, and his regime included training while on holiday in Greece.
And it will all have been worth it when he runs out at Villa Park to make a first Premier League start since the opening game of last term, as Chico Flores' suspension and Kyle Bartley's quad injury hand him the chance to stake a claim for a regular place.
He said: "It has been a long time but what happened in between was a freak accident and when I got back into training it took me a while to get anywhere near match fitness, but now I am.
"Pre-season helped, I went away at the end of the season and trained all the way through and it helped everything to heal.
"I went to the gym here everyday and trained every day on holiday and it's all you can do. I had a lot of time off during the season so I wanted to give myself the best chance of playing as many games as possible. If I start Saturday it will have been worth it.
"I have started this season on the bench after the manager brought in Chico, which I understand as I was not fit last season and he needed another option.
"But hopefully if I play well I expect to stay in the side like anybody else."
Swansea head to Villa Park sitting second in the Premier League table after picking up emphatic wins over QPR and West Ham and drawing with Sunderland.
Villa, meanwhile, have just one point from their first three games, although they turned in an improved performance against Newcastle last time out.
But Tate insists Swansea are not in a position where they can take established Premier League sides lightly.
"They are a young team so they are a dangerous team," he said. "They will have no fear. They are obviously good youngsters to be playing for Villa and they have experience in guys like Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
"They have brought in a new centre-half (Ron Vlaar) and they have Stephen Ireland who is a good player and if they click they will be a good team.
"Hopefully that won't happen on Saturday but we won't worry about what they do, we are going there and want to win the game.
"We have got to go there with a gameplan and I am sure the gaffer has a plan in mind and we will try and implement that."