DONCASTER Rovers star Billy Sharp delivered on his pledge following his hernia operation to be back playing before the end of the season at the Riverside on Saturday.
The 25-year-old came on as a second-half substitute in the 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough.
“It was nice to be back out there on the pitch,” he said. “If was a disappointing result but from a personal point of view I was happy with how things went. It was important to get back playing again before the end of the season.
“I’ve worked hard on my rehabilitation and I wanted to get a little reward by getting back before the end of the season and to also show people that I was on the way back.”
There were reports at the time of his hernia operation that Sharp might need surgery on his groin at some stage, but the club’s record signing is confident that won’t be the case.
“I’m 90 per cent certain that I won’t need surgery on my groin,” he told The Star. “That was also one of the reasons that I wanted to get out there on Saturday.
“If the groin had gone during the match then obviously I would have needed surgery.
“As it is I’ve got three months to get myself completely right and make sure that I’m fully fit for the start of next season.
“I’m at the stage where I need to be working hard in training to make absolutely sure whether the groin is right or not. I’ll have a bit of a break but I’ll be working hard during the close season.
“Even if the worst comes to the worst, and I need an operation, I’ll still be back for the start of next season.”
The general consensus among Rovers’ fans is that if Sharp, the club’s top scorer with 16 goals, hadn’t have missed most of the run-in, the club wouldn’t have found themselves batting against relegation.
“If I had scored ten more goals we’d probably have got a few more points,” said Sharp. “I’m not saying that we’d have been challenging for a place in the play-offs but we’d probably have finished in mid-table.
“I’ve enjoyed my first season as a Doncaster player; it is just disappointing that we finished fourth bottom.
“It has been a frustrating season and finishing just above the relegation zone is not what we set out to do at the start of the season. Injuries didn’t help but you can’t blame them for everything because we’ve got a squad and that is what a squad is for.
“But if you look at some of our performances this season when we’ve had players out injured, it shows we need to strengthen the squad.
But at the end of the day we are still in the Championship and hopefully we can improve on this season’s showing.”