Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has admitted he is still battling to overcome a groin injury that at one stage left him struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel.
The England man missed four months of the season after picking up the injury in August. Lampard was initially unaware of the true extent of the problem and he was sorely missed as Chelsea surrendered a position of authority in the Premier League to slump down the table.
Chelsea are facing a real fight to defend their title and it could well be some time before Lampard is operating at full capacity.
"It was a bad injury and I wasn't really told that in the beginning," he told the Daily Telegraph. "I was expecting it to be a few weeks and people were telling me that. In the end I went to see someone who told me it was a 'three-month minimum' injury.
"You feel like an outcast when you're traipsing around on your own doing afternoon training. Once I got my head around that, it was easier to take."
Lampard has expressed regret at not initially being made aware of the true extent of the problem. He said: "It wasn't misdiagnosed. It was probably a bit my fault because I always try and push. If I could go back I would have given it a lot more rest when I first did the injury."
The midfielder is now aware that he will have to manage his body in order to ensure he does not suffer a recurrence of the problem.
"I've got a weakness there," Lampard said. "It was a bad injury and I still feel it occasionally. My tendon came off the bone and it doesn't go back. It's no problem; you just have to do an extra two or three sessions a week in the gym to keep it strong in that area."