Walsall manager Paul Merson last night dismissed suggestions that his playing days are over and vowed to return to first team football within two months - whether the club's fans like it or not.
The former Aston Villa and England playmaker was carried off in Tuesday night's goalless draw with Brentford and feared a suspected ruptured groin might have brought his playing career to an end.
But having rested the injury for 24 hours and been examined by the club's medical staff, Merson is certain he has not suffered a rupture and predicts he will play again before the end of the year.
He also accepts that, given recent criticism of his performances in the past month, a few of the Walsall supporters may not be particularly pleased by news of his likely recovery.
"Half of the fans would say that this injury will make my job easier - the way I have been playing," Merson quipped.
"It is feeling a lot better than Tuesday night. I went in to the club in the morning and they told me that it was not a rupture but they found a lump so I went for an MRI scan and will get the results soon."
He described the lump as a knot of scar tissue rather than anything more serious.
"If it had been ruptured that would have been it," he admitted. "But there are certain ways you want to go out and want that you definitely don't and this is not the right way for me to finish.
"Hopefully it will not be too bad. It's not as bad as we first thought. I will definitely be back again - it's just a question of how long."
Merson denied the incident, which occurred seven minutes before half-time, has made him examine his own sporting mortality and said he was realistic about how long he can continue to defy his 37-year-old body.
"If I play another 30 matches in my career, then I will have done well because I now that I can't go on forever," he said.
"This is probably the first injury that I have ever had in all the time I have played
professional football. I cannot really moan because I have been very lucky with the career that I have had."
In fact his concerns were rather more pressing - like putting a team out against Port Vale on Saturday. "For me it is about bodies, I am another player and we need all of those we can get," he said.
"If I am out for two months, Darren Wrack is out for three to four months and we are not blessed with loads of players, particularly experienced ones. That's a big worry now.
"I have been to see [ chairman] Jeff [Bonser] about it and he has said that we can get someone in on loan so it's a question of finding the right person now."
Meanwhile, striker Matty Fryatt has signed a new deal at the Bescot Stadium. The England under-19 international has agreed a 12-month extension to his existing contract to run until the end of the 2006/07 season.
But Walsall, who received a bid for Fryatt from Nottingham Forest this season, have also told the 19-year-old they would not block a move to a bigger club.
"We want Matty to score the goals to help us to the Championship," Bonser said.
Fryatt wasn't able to do that against Brentford but another teenager, on-loan goalkeeper John Ruddy, played a big part in securing a point.
"We knew that it would be a tough game against a physical side, but we defended well," Ruddy said.
"We managed to create some chances of our own at the other end and played some decent stuff at times, so it was disappointing that we couldn't pick up another three points to go with those that we earned at Scunthorpe."