ROVERS defender Darragh Lenihan is targeting a return to action by Christmas but is breaking down his comeback in to small stages.

Lenihan underwent surgery last month having suffered a stress fracture to his fifth metatarsal which will rule him out for much of the calendar year.

The Irishman will meet with his surgeon later this month but remains on crutches, and in a protective boot, following the injury which was initially sustained in the opening day defeat at Southend United.

“It’s obviously been frustrating, getting injured on the opening day of the season and then making it worse during a physio session,” the defender said.

“I can’t do anything about it now, I’m just thinking about the future and getting back fit and strong and the best possible shape I can get in to.

“Three or four months, however long the injury takes I just have to take it on the chin.

“I go and see the surgeon in two weeks and I’m taking it by each six week block, more so just for myself mentally and I can tick off those weeks.

“It’s been five weeks and it has flown by and it helps that the lads are doing well.  It is frustrating but it helps when they are winning rather than losing games.”

Rovers boss Tony Mowbray has been eager not to put any pressure on the 23-year-old and his return to action, despite Lenihan being such a key figure in the team.

And Lenihan added: “I hope to be back Christmas time all being well, I can’t give an exact date but for me personally that’s when I’d like to be back.

“I will see what the physios and surgeons say.

“But you give yourself weekly goals, monthly goals for the next period of time.

“I’ve had to learn, I have been in this position before, I was injured when I first came over.

“I wasn’t the most patient but I have gradually over the past few years got better at it.

“I know my body more now.”

Lenihan, who suffered a similar injury at the back end of last season, limped through the final stages of the opening day defeat at Southend United on August 5 and hasn’t featured since.

However, it wasn’t until later that month that scans revealed the extent of the injury which had been made worse during a physio session.

“The most frustrating was that I thought it was just a niggle against Southend,” Lenihan told the club’s official website.

“The scans revealed the bad news two or three weeks later and it was a killer really.

“I wanted to make Southend right after losing, it was very disappointing and hopefully when I get back I get a win under my belt.

“It was very frustrating to say the least but I have to get on with it and when I saw the surgeon and got the scan results you just have to take it on the chin and these next few weeks I have to get my foot right and get in to the best possible shape I can.

“I spoke to a few of the lads, Craig Conway has had it and Jason Lowe rang me up, he’s had a similar injury.

“He said that it will take time but listen to my body, don’t rush back.

“They gave good reviews and said it worked out well in the end and they didn’t have any recurrence of it.”