I’ll be back.
That’s the unequivocal message from sidelined skipper Rob Jones.
While his teammates board the bus for Bournemouth today, Jones will be preparing for surgery on the neck injury which this week officially ended his season.
But the 34-year-old is refusing to mope around. And woe betide you if you happen to even suggest that this could be the end of his playing days.
“The word ‘end’ is banned from my house. It’s banned from the consultation room,” said Jones, who will go under the knife on Monday.
“I have another year left here.
“It’s something I’ll have to contemplate at some point, but not right now. I’m fully focused on having this operation and then coming out the other side.
“I’ll do everything the experts ask me to do. I’m going to try to get to St George’s Park to do some rehab there as well. I’ve also got my A-Licence to look forward to in the summer.
“I am looking at the long term - but I’ve got another year left as a player.
“I’m already player coach here and I’ve never been shy of telling people I want to be a manager.
“I have a contingency plan. Let’s put it like that.”
Jones has cast a frustrated spectator in the Keepmoat press box over the last few months, having not featured since the 4-0 defeat at Middlesbrough in October.
Cervical fusion surgery to rectify his nerve problem was initially a last resort. Now it’s a necessity.
“It’s been a difficult last few months,” said Jones.
“There’s been times I’ve sat down and nearly cried my eyes out, but I’m a big strong boy. I’ll get through this.
“I always knew in the back of my mind that I would need this procedure doing at some point, either during my career or after it.
“I’ve done fantastically well to get this far and not have a major operation, considering the way I play.
“I’ve had a good run. Such is life. Football throws up things to test you every now and again and this is another test for me.
“For me now, it’s just a case of getting the surgery done and looking forward to next season.
“In the meantime I’ll use my time away from the training pitch to help me with my coaching. It’s not a case of sitting around and doing nothing.
“Obviously that won’t compensate for missing games but I’ve got to find something else to do, because the wife’s already pulling her hair out!
“To a footballer, playing football is the be all and end all,” he added.
“But I also have two very young children and I want to be able to play with them for as long as possible, and also my grandchildren if and when that happens.
“I have to look at the bigger picture.
“It’s a procedure that Mr Harvey has done plenty of times and I completely trust him. I’d have loved the injections to have worked but it hasn’t. We move onto the next chapter.
“I’m quite buoyant about it really. Let’s get it done and get it over with and look forward to next year.”