Walsall striker Darren Byfield feared his knee injury would force him into retirement as recently as three weeks ago.
The 34-year-old Saddlers skipper is now enthusiastically stepping up his training regime having received a revolutionary three-course treatment of sugar injections which have strengthened his troublesome knee.
A now positive Byfield said: "If I'm being totally honest with you, I actually believed I was going to have to retire it was that bad.
"At the start, if you look back on my Twitter feed I thought I was going to be out for three weeks and it's now five months later and I'm just coming back. It's been the worst time of my career because I've never been out for so long and it's been a horrible, horrible time.
"Even three weeks ago, just before the injections, I thought 'I'm going to have to retire' because it wasn't getting any better - I couldn't run, I couldn't kick a ball or do anything."
Match fitness is now at the forefront of Byfield's mind, with substitute roles a definite first step, hopefully in the next couple of weeks. He added: "My fitness levels are ridiculously low, I am struggling when I'm doing these runs. Everyone's saying it's going to be a new pre-season but it's worse than that because you usually have seven-eight weeks off in pre-season but this time I've had 24 weeks away."