For the first time in 11 months, Ville Leino gets to play hockey.

The Buffalo forward is set to make his season debut this afternoon when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators. Leino has been sidelined by a hip ailment that may still need surgery during the offseason, but he’s ready to go after a couple of false starts.

“It’s been really annoying, a lot of frustration,” he said in First Niagara Center. “It’s been a tough time, but hopefully now it pays off.”

Leino is expected to leap into a prominent role. The right winger practiced Friday on the second line with center Tyler Ennis and left wing Steve Ott. He also worked on a power-play unit for the second straight day.

“He can offer us a lot,” interim coach Ron Rolston said. “It looks like his energy’s good. He’s skating well out there. His vision, his puck skills and the things he can do offensively will certainly help.

“It’s his job now that he’s ready to go to get in and be in a leadership role. He’s a veteran player, to make sure he’s out there setting the tone and working hard and showing people that the ethic is there and he wants people to follow.

“It’s not coming back to save the day. It’s just to come back and build, build confidence and just start playing the right way and helping our team be successful.”

The 29-year-old struggled in his debut season with Buffalo, recording just eight goals and 25 points in 71 games. He was eager for a fresh start during training camp, but the start got delayed by the lockout and injury.

“I’ll just try to keep it simple and try to play my hockey,” Leino said. “We definitely need to be better. It’s not like one man is going to change anything. We all know that. We need everybody.”