Alex Gilbey hasn't been on the pitch for three months and might not be back until Christmas, but he wants to return to a side vying for the League 2 crown.
The 23-year-old required surgery on a knee cartilage problem after months of playing through the pain barrier - an operation which will rule him out until well into the new campaign.
Gilbey played just two games under Dan Micciche's tenure, but watched on in frustration as his MK Dons team-mates floundered in the League 1 drop zone before relegation was confirmed last Saturday after losing 2-0 to Scunthorpe.
Now 11 weeks after his operation, Gilbey, who moved to Stadium MK from likely League 1 champions Wigan last August, believes he is ahead of schedule for his return, but hopes to be coming back into a team aiming for an immediate return to the third tier.
He said: "Obviously there's not a good time to get injured, but when I got injured, I missed the last three months, I can recover in the summer for three months, giving me time to get fit, strong and ready to win the league next season.
"We've got a six week period where we can go away, refresh, come back, kick on and the main achievement next year needs to be winning the league."
Following relegation, Gilbey, under contract for another two years, expects a big turnaround in the number of players coming and going this summer and feels the club needs to be looking at a different calibre of player to deal with League 2 football next year.
"Teams are going come here next season and it will be like a cup final for them so we need to make sure we're ready for that," he added.
"You see a lot of ins and outs whether you've had a good season or a bad season. I think we need to get the right bodies in to build a firm squad."
Gilbey was named Media Personality of the Year at the subdued Player of the Year Awards on Tuesday night which saw the usual first team awards cancelled as a result of their relegation. Although not a part of the squad since February 3, Gilbey admitted the night was embarrassing for all of the playing staff.
"The awards night was tough but it had to be done," he said. "We had to show our faces and recognise the achievements of the ladies' team and the U18s and U23s, but that was the final nail for us.
"There's still a lot of embarrassment and disappointment, but that's natural. We need to start moving on now and concentrating on next season."