The road to recovery is still stretching out ahead of Dale Johnson
The striker says it feels like an eternity since he last pulled on an FC Halifax Town shirt after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament during the club’s 1-0 win at Worcester back in December.
“It’s the worst injury you could possibly have as a footballer - they say a broken leg is better to come back from,” he says ruefully.
“I know I can come back but I need to prove my fitness. I’m hoping to be fit enough to train in pre-season but I need to get used to playing again. It feels like it’s been forever.”
Johnson says his daily routine of work followed by a visit to the gym is slowly paying dividends.
He said: “It’s a slow process. I finish work at 3.30pm and go to the gym every day to build up the muscles.
“It’s going well. The knee’s feeling stronger now.
“I started jogging a couple of weeks ago so I’m beginning to build it up now. That was a big weight off my shoulders, literally, as I can feel the weight starting to drop off.
“Hopefully I can step it up in pre-season and join in with the rest of the lads after a couple of weeks.
“I’ve not done much ball work yet - just kicking my little girl’s football around the house!
“It’s just a case of getting the mobility in the knee, but pre-season can’t come soon enough.
“I’m trying to get myself as fit as possible for then.
“It was a bit like Dan Gardner’s injury, but he still had a couple of inches of his ligament intact. Mine just ruptured completely. They took a tendon out of my hamstring and placed it into my knee.”
But Johnson is already itching to get back.
Aside from the injury, an almost equally excruciating wait for his operation has left Johnson twitching his thumbs excitedly at the prospect of playing again.
“The worst time was waiting for the operation - that was the hardest thing,” he says.
“All I’ve wanted to do since is kick a ball again. You can get back in four months but Michael Essien did that at Chelsea and he was out again afterwards, so it’s not worth rushing it.
“It’s been so frustrating because I felt like I was coming into my own and I was leading goalscorer at one stage.
“I was really gutted because there was a lot more to come from me and I didn’t think I’d played at my best.
“When you’ve been out with a bad injury you appreciate the game a lot more - I just want to get back playing and start scoring goals. I’m 28 so I’ve still got a few years to go.”