Luckless Sydney AFL defender Alex Johnson is intent on returning to the field in 2016 despite undergoing his fourth knee reconstruction on Monday.
Johnson hasn't played an AFL game since the Swans' 2012 grand final win over Hawthorn, with the key defender undergoing a reconstruction after he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a pre-season match in 2013.
An infection picked up during that initial operation has caused complications that led to a total of eight procedures on the same joint since.
Johnson sat out the entire 2015 season without an ACL in his knee while he waited to undergo his latest reconstruction, with doctors wanting to be sure the infection had cleared before operating again.
"It's been really tough," Johnson told the club's website.
"When you do your ACL and the realisation sinks in that you've done a significant injury you understand that you're probably going to miss 12 months but it's turned into three years pretty quickly.
"I never would have thought I would have eight operations on the one knee in such a short space of time.
"But I've tried to stay really positive through it all. I think what's been driving me through it all is that I will come back and play and that comeback game will be really special.
"I'm really looking forward to that and that's continuing to drive me."
Given his medical history, Sydney aren't putting a timeframe on his return other than to say that the 2016 season is in play for the 23-year-old.
Johnson is confident the successful surgery and his continued positive mindset will allow him to resume his AFL career.
"It's been a while since I last played so I opted for the hybrid LARS, which in my eyes is the best of both worlds," he said.
"You've got the synthetic graft and then you've got the cadaver or donor ligament ... and together they become your ACL - it's a quicker healing process.
"It went really well. The surgeon was pretty optimistic going in that everything was going to be fine and afterwards he came to see me and he was absolutely rapt with how everything went.
"(But) I will be taking it pretty cautiously - once I get back playing I want to stay playing ... I really want to make sure that my knee is 100 per cent right."