Stefan Bajcetic has opened up on the heartache of seeing his breakout season at Liverpool derailed through injury.
The Spaniard burst onto the scene during a troubled 2022/23 season, acting as a beacon of light in a dreary, leggy midfield that was past its best days.
Bajcetic made 19 senior appearances, scoring his first senior goal at Aston Villa on Boxing Day of last year, and was then voted the Standard Chartered Men's Player of the Month in January.
However, as he continued to prove himself at the top level, showing just why he should be a key part of Liverpool's upcoming midfield rebuild, his breakthrough campaign was cut short in March due to a stress response around his adductor.
"I had the same injury before but in the other side, when I was getting the pain, so I kind of thought about that it was going to be the same," Bajcetic told the club's website. "But in my mind it was like, 'It can't be the same, I need to keep playing.'
"But I did a scan. Scans are very cruel – they always show something. I remember I was at home, they rang me and they told me, 'You have a stress response.'
"Obviously it was a tough moment but I kind of took it well, I think. I took it as an opportunity to get stronger, improve in some bits. I just tried to stay positive mentally."
On having to watch his teammates train from the sidelines, Bajcetic added: "You can't stop thinking of what I would have done in that moment, I could obviously be doing that. So it's obviously tough.
"It's just getting to the gym and counting the days to going back."
The 19-year-old is still working his way back to a full return for Liverpool, having made his initial comeback at the beginning of the season in the Europa League before suffering another minor setback.
However, upon his eventual return, he has his eyes set on enjoying success at Anfield.
"Something that I would love to achieve is to win a trophy," Bajcetic said.
"[It's] something that I've seen when I was [in] the Academy when they won the two cups [during 2021-22]. But I wasn't in the squad to enjoy it.
"Especially with this city, with the fans, it's something I'm looking to give to them – a trophy. I don't care which one. Any trophy is very important for the fans and it keeps the team positive.
"That's something that I would love to achieve here."