Huddersfield defender Jon Gorenc Stankovic accepts it has been a miserable season for the club but is determined to savour every last minute of top-flight football.
The Terriers became only the second side after Derby in 2008 to be relegated from the Premier League in March and have won only three of their 34 matches this season.
The weekly beatings became too much to bear for former boss David Wagner, who departed by mutual consent in January, but Stankovic insisted it has all been worth it.
“It’s still the Premier League and the best league in the world and I think all the lads who are playing are really enjoying it,” the 23-year-old said.
“This is not something you wouldn’t enjoy.”
Wagner was replaced by fellow German Jan Siewert and while the defeats have continued – Siewert has lost 10 of his 11 games in charge – Stankovic has emerged from the shadows.
“Of course it is hard and I think everyone knows that,” he said when asked how hard it had been mentally for the players this season.
“I don’t really need to focus on that because there are defeats, so it is hard for us, but on the other side, and personally for me, I’ve been playing a lot and I hadn’t been playing before.”
The Slovenian, expected to feature in Saturday’s home game against Watford, had been a peripheral figure after joining from Borussia Dortmund in July 2016 and was then sidelined for over a year due to a cruciate knee ligament injury.
He made just one league appearance under Wagner this season before Siewert handed the central defender his first start in six months as a midfielder in a rare win against Wolves in February.
“So it’s like a plus for me,” Stankovic said.
“There are defeats, yes of course, but since my injury I came back and it’s really good for me and the coach helped me a lot and gave me the chance and this was really good for me.”
Stankovic is confident the club can mount another promotion challenge, but made no promises about bouncing straight back.
“I was here when we were in the Championship and this squad is capable of being in the top tier again,” he added.
“The Championship is a hard league, we all know, and everything can happen in the Championship.
“We’ve seen, we played Reading in the Championship (play-off) final and now they are struggling and you never know what can happen.
“But we will keep our focus and try hard to get back in the Premier League as fast as possible.”
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