Most people would think breaking their back was far worse than losing a few games of football, but not AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Ross Worner.

The 24-year-old was dubbed “the UK’s toughest footballer” in 2012 when he fractured his spine while playing for Aldershot, but believing it to be nothing more than a spasm he refused to be substituted.

Worner admitted that the career-threatening injury was devastating, but he says the stress of almost being relegated last season came close.

He said: “It’s weird now to think back to when my back was broken. It was a tough time and I thought my career might be coming to an end at a young age of 22.

“But last season when we stayed up and were safe, I can’t quite explain how good that feeling of relief was.

“Both have been extremely tough times, but I’ve come through them stronger.”

He added: “You’ve got to be thankful for all the time you spend playing at league level.

“I think myself very lucky, especially given that injury, and I’ve just got to keep putting in the effort in training and make sure I’m still hungry to play.”

The Dons first choice shot stopper believes there is no limit to where the side can go now, thanks to some promising signings and a positive preseason regime at the CRRS.

“If we work hard and put the performances in on the pitch you never know what can happen come the end of the season,” he said.

“We’ve got the right players here, and the gaffer and everyone else want us to push on as they know the quality we’ve got in the squad.”

He added: “I’d personally like to keep more clean sheets than I did last season (10) and just try to make sure I’m solid in every single game.”