While most people are on the countdown to Christmas, Raith Rovers striker Lewis Vaughan is counting down the days to another important date.
The 19-year-old is hoping his Christmas will come late - on February 10 to be precise - when he hopes his final check-up with his surgeon will signal a return from injury.
Vaughan has not kicked a ball since suffering cruciate ligament damage in a League Cup match against Albion Rovers at Stark’s Park in August.
After undergoing an operation in September, Vaughan was told his rehabilitation could last up to nine months, but he now hopes to be back in action by March, two months ahead of schedule.
“It’s going well so far,” Vaughan told the Press.
“I’ve been running in straight lines for a few weeks now, probably nearer a month.
“It’s a slow process - I’m still not kicking a ball yet. I wish I was.
“I’ve tried to get a feel of a few balls in training but Stuart the physio isn’t having it.
“My knee feels fine - that’s why it’s so frustrating because it feels like I can go and play football.
“I obviously can’t, but it just feels normal
“It’s frustrating watching the boys go to training but I’ve got my own stuff to crack on with.
“It was three months ago on Monday since my operation so I’m near enough halfway through my rehab. It’s flown past in terms of life scale, but on a football scale it’s been forever. I’ll get there.
“I go back to see the specialist on February 10 for another check-up - and that’s the last one.
“If everything’s fine then he’ll discharge me and I should be able to start full training.
“I’m hoping to be training before then, but after February 10 I’ll hopefully be able to step things up and play in reserve games to get my fitness up.
“Hopefully I’ll be ready for the first team at the end of February or start of March.”
After finishing last season with a flourish, Vaughan had started the new season with a bang, scoring in the opening two fixtures of the season before suffering his cruel injury.
“I thought this was going to be my big season to make a name for myself, and I was gutted when it first happened,” he said. “When I did it, I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was.
“I’d came off against Cowdenbeath the week before, and was so frustrated because I hate coming off injured.
“The new gaffer had come in and I didn’t want him to look at me and think I was a pea-hearted guy who wanted to come off all the time. I knew that wasn’t me.
“I was so frustrated to come off in the Albion Rovers game - I even tried to go back on but my knee went again, I just knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it turned out to be.”
Vaughan has refused to let his injury get him down, and is using the likes Steven Naismith, who suffered the same knee injury three times in his career before going on to become an international star playing in the English Premier League, as inspiration.
“I don’t see this as holding me back,” he said.
“It’s challenged me, and I want to come out of it and be ready for the end of this season.
“If we make the play-offs, I’m hoping to be available for them.
“I’ll maybe get the last two months of season if there are no hiuccups, and it’s been perfect so far, so hopefully there won’t be.”
Vaughan has extra reason to want to prove his fitness before the end of the season - he is out of contract in the summer - although Raith are sure to want to keep one of their brightest young stars.
“I don’t know what will happen next season so I just need to concentrate on getting back as fit as I can and hopefully make an impression in the last couple months of the season,” he added.