Hearts striker Kevin Kyle is to undergo further surgery at the end of this month in a bid to save his career after a year-long absence with a hip injury.
Kyle, 30, last kicked a ball in anger in the Scottish Cup fourth-round clash with St Johnstone on January 11, 2011 and finally hopes an operation next week will solve his persistent hip complaint.
He told Hearts TV: "I've overcome some things in my life and this has been one of the hardest things. Nobody's said I'll have to retire. I've got a chance and hopefully the option I've got will work.
"I just don't believe for a minute I need to finish football and I'm hoping the surgery I get at the end of the month will sort all that and give me everything I need to push on again.
"Hopefully it's just an impingement, where two bones are rubbing and they can be shaved off and smoothed. Hopefully that will put an end to this saga and I can resume my football career. I never envisaged it would take this long. I'd just like to get back playing, even if it's for one season.''
Following consultations with numerous specialists, Kyle has had a three-dimensional picture of his hip joint produced, showing signs of various issues, including arthritis, something the surgeon is not too concerned about.
Kyle, who had hip trouble while at Sunderland earlier in his career, hopes the latest surgery will cure his problem.
"Without question, this is what I've been looking for,'' he added. "If I don't recover from this surgery, I'll know the situation, I'll know what's wrong with me and I'll know why I can't play football. I'll be able to take that and understand it.
"Hopefully once all this is done I've got that improvement needed to return to professional football and see out my career as I hope to see out my career. Not to finish at 30 and worry about the future."