Derby County defender Tyrone Mears is confident he will return to first-team action before the end of the season after making a quicker than expected recovery from a serious shin injury.
The 25-year-old former Preston North End star has been sidelined since mid-January and initially was told his season was over.
However, Mears told the Derby Evening Telegraph: "The shin started to hurt and hurt and, from around Christmas time I was a spectator in games, I couldn't give anything.
"I remember it being particularly painful in the home game against Blackburn and in my last game, against Wigan in January, I thought 'I'm embarrassing myself', and it could end up snapping.
"I wasn't doing me or my team-mates any good and so I decided to stop playing. But I said to everyone I wouldn't be out for the season.
"The specialist I've been to see has been really good and the injury's healed so quickly. I've been patient and the physios and the fitness guys have been great, they've got me back really quick.
"For the past three years I've tried to battle through the injury. The physios here told me there was an operation I could have and, hopefully, I've seen the back of the problem now."