Birmingham boss Alex McLeish admits striker Garry O'Connor's career could have been ended by the double hip problem which sidelined him for almost a year. O'Connor made a successful comeback for Blues in the 2-0 win over Blackpool - their first success in seven matches.
The Scotland international was only given a new six-month contract in the summer as doubts continued to surround his fitness.
McLeish said: "We know big Garry had had massive trouble with his hips, a real-long term injury.
"He's had a tough time. He got the winner at Hull in the early part of last season and then the problems started.
"There's no doubt that it was career threatening. It was a terrible injury. He had two operations on both hips at the same time so that is a huge setback.
"He was looking reasonably sharp in the pre-season programme and then just took a wee dip.
"We put him out on loan at Barnsley to get match fitness although he only played a couple of games. He came back and I said 'show that you are better than everyone else, Garry'.
"We need mobility upfront and O'Connor has got decent mobility, is two footed, good in the air, Garry, on his game, is as good a finisher as I've seen."