Dean Bowditch is a matter of weeks away from returning to the first team after a frustrating three months on the sidelines.
After undergoing groin surgery in the summer, last season’s top scorer has suffered from bone marrow oedema - a bruising inside the bones - extending his spell out of the game.
The extra injury has delayed his return to the first team by more than a month, adding to the usual frustration a footballer feels when stuck in the MK Dons treatment room.
“I know I can’t do anything about it, so I just have to come here and support the boys,” Bowditch said.
“It is frustrating watching them all on the training pitch when you’re stuck in the treatment room.
“We’ve seen people like Daniel Powell who has had a full pre-season campaign but gets injured before the season started and we’re coming back together.
“You have to be mentally strong to see people come in injured and go back out on the pitch again.
“It can be demoralising but I’m in the changing room before and after the game because I want to be part of this team.”
His reaction to injury though is start contrast to team-mate Stephen Gleeson, who admitted he hated watching games from the sidelines during his time out with a broken foot last season.
Bowditch said: “I wouldn’t go as far as saying I wouldn’t go and watch the game because it would kill me.
“He is a different character to me. He gets angry when he’s injured!
“I think he said his girlfriend went through the hardest three or four months they’ve ever had because his mentality when he’s injured means he just goes off on everyone!”
Manager Karl Robinson has said the side have desperately missed the contributions of both Bowditch and Daniel Powell, who got injured on the eve of the new season.
But George Baldock and loan stars Jason Banton, Samir Carruthers and Danny Green have all performed well in replacing the injured duo, and their performances have warranted places in Robinson’s starting 11.
Bowditch knows though that he will have his work cut out to get back in the team.
He said: “I’m not a player who expects to just walk back into the team.
“I don’t expect, when I get fit, to say ‘cheers, thanks for covering, let me back in the team’ because if they’re playing well enough, why should I go back in?
“If they’re creating chances and scoring goals, they should keep their place.
“Hopefully, I’m good enough after a few games, I can win my place back.
“The competition is really good at the moment. The manager has brought in a few wide players, and it’s one of the hardest positions to play.
“You’ve got to do a lot more defending than you think. In this team, we have to track back and work for the team.”
Dons fans got their first glimpse of Bowditch and Powell again on Saturday as they warmed up with the first team at London Road before the 2-1 defeat to Peterborough.
And it has spurred Bowditch on to get match fit again.
“It felt really good,” he said. “The gaffer told us he wasn’t going to risk us but wanted us to travel.
“We had our kit hanging up again which was good, and we went out in front of the fans just to send them the message that we’re close.
“They can see not just the good squad we’ve got at the moment but when Bowds and Powelly are back that’ll add to it.”