The target is locked in for Bradley Dack; he wants to be in the squad for the first game of next season, whenever that may be, and feels he's on track to be back better than ever before.
We're almost six months on from the playmaker's awful anterior cruciate ligament injury against Wigan Athletic at Ewood Park, and the finishing line is now edging closer for the talisman.
The 26-year-old is back on the grass now as he steps up his return to full fitness, and in a positive mood when speaking to iFollow Rovers regarding an update on his condition.
“The rehabilitation is going really well, I’m back on the grass again with the running, with next week being the stage that we get into the proper stuff, fitness work, work with the ball," he said.
“It’s going to be pretty strange and it might take me a couple of weeks to get the rust off, but I’m really looking forward to getting fit again and starting with the ball again.
“Going through this injury has been tough, especially the first three or four months where you’re not on the grass. When you’re back on the pitches you can see that end goal.
“That’s the biggest change. You can see the finish line and I’m closing in on six months now, which seems crazy to me.
“It’s been tough spending all the hours in the gym, but we worked the rehab as time that I’m never going to get again in making me the best athlete I can possibly be," he explained.
“I think with that in mind, it’s changed my outlook on things now. I feel so much stronger than I ever was before, in every aspect.
“All the testing we’ve done, the results show that I’m in better physical shape than I ever was when I was fully fit.
“That’s crazy considering I still have 10 weeks left of the injury. Once you see the results, it kind of turns into an addiction to get better and better.
“I feel more powerful and definitely quicker. I can jump higher as well. These are all the things you need on the pitch. Even when I’m running, I feel more powerful and much quicker. I feel I can run for longer and more efficiently.
“It all goes back to the frame of mind from the start. Me and the physios saw it as the time to become a proper athlete in the space of nine months, rather than an injured player," he added.
“I’ve not seen it as someone who’s injured my anterior cruciate ligament and will spend nine months rehabilitating.
“The knee has been fine the whole way through, there have been no problems or reactions.
“The surgeon’s been surprised by more scores and he’s said that he has no worries. He wants to see me again just as I’m about to return to training, just to check me over.
“That’s really good to hear when you’ve worked so hard."
As well as the physical barriers in his way, there have also been mental hurdles to jump over during his road to recovery.
“I was a bit nervous when I was back on the grass for the first week, nervous that there might be some swelling," he admitted.
“But there was no reaction and running now feels like normal to me, which sounds weird to say.
“Your mind plays tricks on you as well at times, thinking that one side feels heavier than the other and wondering if you’re ever going to return to normal.
“The work we’ve done in the gym has set me up to ensure everything will be fine because we’ve put the work and the hours into it.
“The way the pandemic happened, it’s allowed me to really focus on the work because there’s been nowhere to go. You can’t go on holiday anywhere.
“Not having that time off has helped me. Every week I might have had off is a week that I’ve moved closer to getting back.
“In about eight weeks from now I’ll be doing little bits in training with the boys.
“Two weeks on from that I’ll be seeing the surgeon and hopefully he’ll give me the green light to return to full training. Three or four weeks after that then we’ll get back into the swing of things and full steam ahead from there.
“The aim is to be in the squad for the first game of next season.
“The whole process has excited me really. Hopefully there will be people who will watch me when I come back playing and be blown away by the work that’s gone into the previous nine months."