By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
The 22-year-old missed the opening weeks of the 2013 campaign as he was still recovering from a fractured right fibula, which he sustained while on international duty with Singapore in last year's AFF Suzuki Cup.
However, he made his return on February 16 after coming on as a substitute for Isa Halim in the 3-0 win over Pahang, before playing from the start three days later in a 2-2 draw with title rivals Darul Takzim.
Despite having been out for a significant period, Hariss showed no signs of rustiness and was straight back to his bustling ways in the LIONSXII engine room, and the player admits he is glad to be slowly but surely returning to peak condition.
"I feel better after the last game and in training," he told FOX Sports. "The confidence is coming back but I still hope to work more on my match fitness.
"Slowly, everything is coming back so I just have to get more games under my belt."
With Hariss fitting seamlessly back in to the starting XI, LIONSXII coach V. Sundramoorthy admits it is a real boost to have him available for selection again.
Nonetheless, the legendary Singapore forward is backing his charge to lift his game even more this season and add another string to his bow.
"He's a big influence on the team," Sundramoorthy said. "When he's fully match fit, he's someone who can contribute a lot to LIONSXII.
"With his presence, the players feel confident and motivated.
"Hariss started out as a defensive midfielder and we all know about his defensive qualities. But over the years, with [Great Eastern-YEO's S.League outfit Courts] Young Lions, LIONSXII and the national team, he's improved his attacking qualities.
"That's one of the main reason why we're pushing him forward. He's good with his head and can score from crosses, and we're backing him to get goals."
Hariss did just that in last month's tie with a big-spending Darul Takzim side that boasted the likes of Malaysia internationals Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Safee Sali, Safiq Rahim and Aidil Zafuan, as well as big-name foreign signings Dani Guiza and Simone Del Nero.
Although his fifth-minute opener, along with a Baihakki Khaizan header, was only enough for a point after Harimau Selatan hit back on both occasions through Del Nero and Norshahrul, the combative midfielder believes the result was one that filled the LIONSXII with great confidence for the remainder of the season.
"I think we were unlucky to come away with a draw," Hariss added. "We played really well, the boys fought till the end and every minute we were battling with them and didn't give them too many chances.
"Of course, we were under pressure and it's not easy to go to a place like that and it was a very sad thing for us [not to hold on to the win]. But at the end it was a really satisfying result and a great morale booster."
That was the last time Sundramoorthy's charges were in competitive action given last Saturday's league clash with Perak was postponed to April, while they did not play in this week's round of Malaysia FA Cup fixtures after they were eliminated by PKNS FC in the first round.
But despite being out of action for a week and a half, Hariss does not believe his team-mates will be rusty in Saturday's away game against FELDA United.
"I think the break came at a good time as it allowed some of the players to recover from fatigue and niggling injuries," he revealed. "It also gave us some time to prepare for this game and the next [against Kelantan] in advance, so I think we're ready to go.
"Besides, in terms of match fitness, we played a friendly [against J.League outfit Albirex Niigata's Under-18 side] over the week so we've actually been working quite hard. It hasn't been an easy break so I think we're there or thereabouts - it's now down to us to go out on the field and deliver the result."
During Hariss' early-season absence, a number of new faces were handed the chance to prove their worth and some, like Hafiz Abu Sujad and Zulfahmi Arifin, showed promising signs.
Having watched them survive their baptism of fire from the stands, Hariss has backed them to continue their development ahead of the end-of-year Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, but does not want the Singaporean outfit to be distracted by talk of them challenging for the title.
"I've definitely been impressed with some of the younger ones," he praised. "In the first two to three games, they played well and held their own against a lot of experienced campaigners.
"Coming away with a couple of results, especially at home, was really good for their confidence. At the moment, some of the youngsters are playing with real confidence and I hope they continue.
"It's really good for our preparation for the SEA Games and I hope this will all bear fruit when the time comes.
"I think we should aim high but we shouldn't put too much pressure on the young shoulders of many of our players. It's only March now so we still have about three to four months to go before the end of the season.
"For us, the most important thing is to go about our jobs and try to rack up as many points as we can, and just look forward."
Hariss became the youngest player ever to represent the Lions when he won his first cap against Korea DPR as a 16-year-old.