SHAUN Miller hopes to have put his injury nightmare at Wanderers behind him after firing his side to a hard-fought win at Southend United.

The 33-year-old front man grabbed an 82nd minute winner at Roots Hall in what was only his second game back after a torn thigh muscle which at one stage looked to have ended his season prematurely.

Miller had scored against his former club Crewe in only his second appearance for Bolton back in September only to be ruled out for two months with a calf problem.

He returned briefly during Wanderers’ good run in November before being struck down again – but this time Miller hopes to be in Ian Evatt’s reckoning for good.

“It’s crazy because two times now I have picked up injuries that have left me out for eight or nine weeks – but I think I can put that behind me now and stay fit for the rest of the season,” he said.

“It was really frustrating. I came in and scored early on but got injured after the game.

“I came back when the team were doing well and on another decent run but then I was out again.

“I’m delighted to get my first league goal and also my 100th career goal. I was over the moon with that one.

“I have known for a while because obviously I have been stuck on 99 for quite a bit.

“When I came to the club I was on 98 and got one straight away but since then I have been sat there injured and unable to do anything about it.

“I have been training for a while not but just to be back in the mix is great. I felt I did okay at the start of the season before I got injured so now I was to contribute everything I can between now and the end of the season.”

Miller’s first career goal came in March 2007 for Crewe at Blackpool. And coincidentally, Ian Evatt was in the Seasiders’ defence that day.

The Cheshire-born striker has scored for eight different clubs on his way to a ton but was left on 99 watching from the side-lines as his most recent employers laboured in the first half of the campaign.

“It was doubly frustrating because I knew that I would have had opportunities if I had been fit,” he said. “When I came back we were on a good run, I was back involved and everything was good, but to be out again was a nightmare.

“There’s definitely a good morale in the group now and we’re confident going into games that we’re going to win them. If we keep that going we’ll be fine.”

Miller revealed that Evatt had put him on to the pitch against Southend with the instruction to “go and score the winner” but the manner it arrived was hardly straightforward.

Antoni Sarcevic’s blast looped off a defender and fooled keeper Mark Oxley into thinking it was dropping over the crossbar. But after clipping the woodwork it fell out of Oxley’s grasp for Miller to hook it over the line.

“It seemed to be up in the air for a few days but it caught the keeper by surprise and luckily I was there to put it away,” he said.

“It had spun up so high and I was thinking it had clearly not gone out for a corner or a goal kick, so I hovered around and on this occasion I was there to tuck it into the net.”