FORGOTTEN man Martin Woods has revealed the true pain of his year in the wilderness - admitting he has broken down in tears about his struggle to regain full fitness.
The 25-year-old midfielder is targeting a long-awaited comeback in next week’s FA Cup third round tie with Notts County.
Away from football Woods has been boosted by the news he will become a father for the first time in April.
But the former Leeds United and Sunderland playmaker cannot wait to see the back of 2011 after managing just a solitary appearance - against Reading in January - because of a persistent groin problem.
Woods said: “It’s been the worst year of my life.
“Other than the fact I’ve got a little one on the way with the girlfriend, 2011 has been a total write off.
“I can’t wait for it to be over.
“It’s been heartbreaking watching the games and I’m desperate to get back and help the lads achieve something.
“I’m still only 25 and I was always confident I’d make a full recovery but it got to the point where I was actually in tears about the whole thing.
“I was really worried about not knowing what was actually wrong and it doesn’t just affect you but it affects your family and the people around you.
“A lot of players suffer injuries that are a lot worse than mine, but they have a clear rehabilitation path,” he added.
“I was just desperate for someone to come up with a diagnosis and tell me what I had to do to get back.
“Thankfully I went to see a neurologist in London a couple of months ago and he had a different way of looking at things.
“Since then I’ve been doing a day of training followed by a day of strengthening the muscles in that area.
“I feel good and hopefully I can be involved against Notts County.
“What I don’t want to do is come back too early.
“But when I do come back I’ll come back as a stronger person.
“I’ve still got plenty to offer this team.”
When Woods does return he will have competition in midfield from new loan arrival Damien Plessis who, as first reported in last week’s Free Press, has arrived from Panathinaikos on a season-long loan deal.
Strikers Mamadou Bagayoko and Habib Bamogo also officially put pen to paper on five-month deals with Doncaster yesterday, after agreeing moves from Greek clubs PAS Giannena and Panetolikos respectively.
The trio could be involved for the first time against Barnsley on Monday, although Plessis’s international clearance may not arrive until the visit of Notts County on January 7.
Dean Saunders, meanwhile, has urged his team not to dwell on the 3-0 Boxing Day defeat at Burnley as they prepare to face Watford on New Year’s Eve.
Rovers fell behind to Jay Rodriguez’s first half penalty after Sam Hird was harshly adjudged to have fouled Chris McCann.
A late Martin Paterson strike and Hird own goal condemned Rovers to a tenth defeat on their travels in the Championship.
Saunders said: “It was not a 3-0 game.
“I thought we played well. The decision for the penalty was ridiculous.
“We have to go to Watford and not let that scoreline affect us because it could have been the other way.”