INJURY-JINXED Stags defender Rhys Day this week thanked everyone for their support as he underwent a successful operation on a serious knee injury.
Day knows he faces a long, hard road to recovery but said he was ready for his latest challenge in a career that has been blighted by one injury after another.
Back fit and knocking on the first team door, he suffered a torn patella tendon in a friendly game at Rainworth two weeks ago.
“Injuries have plagued me throughout my career,” he said. “This was my 13th operation in 29 years on this planet!
“I was enjoying the game. Then about 70 minutes in, the nightmare came true. It was a freak accident.
“My right knee just buckled under me and straight away I knew it was serious.”
Rushed to hospital by ambulance, Day underwent an operation to put the tendon back together.
“The surgeon said it had gone as well as it could have gone,” said Day.
“He said it was a bit of a mess down there but he had fixed it up as best he could and now it would be a case of me being patient and taking my time.
“I know I could be a long time out. But I am not thinking about that. I want to be back playing as soon as I can. I have a kid on the way and this is my livelihood.
“The sooner I am back, the better for me and my family.”
Day was delighted with the visits he has received at hospital and the cards and messages from well-wishers.
“I want to say thank you very much to everyone,” he said.
“It echoes my feelings that I have a very strong affinity with this club. It is very close to my heart and I have felt terrible this season, picking up a wage and not playing.
“It’s been hard for me and this is the final nail in the coffin. But I am a strong character and, if anyone can get through this, it is me.”
He added: “I know there will be ups and downs along the way. First I want to be up walking when the baby is born in six and a bit weeks.
“I am on crutches and a knee brace for two weeks, then I am allowed 30 degres movement for two weeks, then 60 degrees movement for two weeks.
“I have to make sure everything is knitted together and solid again. It will be a long process but it’s one I am ready for.”
Boss Paul Cox said: “Rhys has had no luck whatsoever since I have been here.
“Rhys played at Rainworth and reports said he was immense and back to what we know he can do.
“Then something like that happens to him. I am really disappointed for him as everyone knows what a fit Rhys Day can do.
“It’s nice there has been an ourpouring of love for him. He is a bubbly character.”
l Unable to sort a deal with Crawley to keep loanee centre half John Dempster, Cox is now set to delve into the loan market once Dempster’s loan ends on 22nd February.
It would have been the perfect opportunity for a fit-again Rhys Day to stake his claim for a recall.
Dempster is out of contract at Crawley in the summer and so could still find himself back at Field Mill next year.
But in the meantime Cox is suddenly short in a department in which he seemed blessed earlier this season.
“Not only is John a top drawer player but he is also a great professional to have around the club,” said Cox.
“We did all we could to get him but couldn’t find a deal that suited all parties in the end.
“He will be very much in my mind at the end of the season for next season. But, for now, we have to look elsewhere.
“John going will leave us with a substantial hole. But I am talking to a number of clubs for when the loan window opens again next week.
“We must make sure we have every scenario covered.”
However, there was better news on another injured centre-half, John Thompson.
“John is back at Lilleshall this week to make sure he is doing fitness work relevent to the injury that will enable him to step back into the frame,” said Cox.
“I spoke to him at the weekend and he is feeling really good about himself.
“Most importantly, he seemed mentally refreshed.
“In the games he played in for us he had a nagging doubt in the back of mind about the injuries and I don’t think in those games we saw the real John Thompson.”