CHERRIES star Harry Arter vowed never to gamble with his fitness again after revealing his last push through the pain barrier had backfired.

With Euro 2016 on the horizon, the Republic of Ireland international midfielder was so desperate to make his country’s March friendlies that he attempted to rush back from an Achilles injury.

But having missed Premier League outings at Newcastle and against Swansea, Arter’s comeback at Tottenham – the last fixture before the international break – lasted only 45 minutes.

The 26-year-old reported for duty with Ireland but was quickly sent back amid fears his injury-blighted maiden campaign in the top flight could be over.

But having enjoyed a problem-free return at Everton on Saturday, Arter’s hopes of a call-up are alive and kicking – and he will not be playing Russian roulette with the opportunity.

Arter told the Daily Echo: “The injury was not right after the Southampton game. I probably came back a little bit too early and pushed myself way too soon with the Ireland games in my mind.

“I later apologised to the manager and the lads after the Tottenham game because I realised I should not have put myself or the team in that position.

“Then I went away and it came to light that the injury was a little bit more serious than we first thought. I should have been wise enough to know it wasn’t right.

“Now, I am just pleased to have it diagnosed and, hopefully, to be able to keep it at bay. From now on, I know have to be a bit more professional in that sense and take away my own emotions.

“Every player wants to play but I can’t do myself or my team justice if I am not right and next time, I will not put myself in that position.”

Six weeks on, the picture looks far rosier and Arter is confident the injury is manageable as he bids to gain crucial game time, starting with tomorrow’s home clash with West Brom (3pm).

“It is an injury I have to stay on top of by doing strengthening work around it,” he added.

“With only a couple of games left, I would like to think my mental strength will be enough to get me through and then we can assess it at the end of the season.

“I knew I had to get in some games to have a good chance of being fit enough for the Euros. Martin O’Neill has made it clear he wants me to get in a few a games and hopefully, I can play in the last two.

“There are a couple of friendlies before he picks the squad so if I can stay injury free, he will give me a chance to prove what I can do.

“I don’t feel too bad but I could get myself a little bit fitter. I have missed a few games but I am working hard in training and the gym to get as fit as I can."

On the prospect of being on the plane to go to France, Arter said: “It is an unbelievable tournament and three or four years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being considered.

“This is something I would never take for granted and I know I have to give my all and play to my full capacity to have a good chance.

“It would be a dream come true for any player that has not experienced playing at the Euros and hopefully, it is a dream I can fulfil.”