Cal Crutchlow is reluctant to undergo a further operation on his painful right ankle, since it would mean a winter of rehab for the second year in succession.

The Englishman required major surgery after shattering his ankle at Phillip Island last season.

Sidelined for three months, the LCR Honda rider returned for February's Sepang test and has gone on to claim three podiums this season, but continues to be dogged by nerve problems due to the metalwork needed to knit his ankle together.

Crutchlow met with the surgeon he credits with saving his career during this year's Australian round, where he discussed the ongoing issues with his foot.

"My surgeon came to the grand prix. I also saw him during the week in Melbourne," Crutchlow said.

"I have a problem with the nerve in my ankle. Like after riding just now [at Sepang], I can't feel two toes, my big toe and the next toe. And the pain if I touch that nerve is incredible.

"But I don’t want a winter of rehab again. We test in Valencia and then we test in Jerez.That means I've got to have it done in December. It's three weeks recovery from having any operation and then three weeks of rehab, to start with.

"So six weeks and that's when I'm testing [at Sepang in February]. So can I just deal with the pain? It seems worse now when I'm riding because the boot's rubbing.

"As I told you, at the start of the year it was a disaster. Middle of the year it was fine and August time it was a disaster again. Then it went good again for a month and now it's starting to get bad again.

"But it's not an easy operation, because of how much metal is in there, I need a plastic surgeon to look through the microscope and move my nerve, because you can't damage the nerve.

"The doctors think it's easy! It's probably like us doing a few laps around here, ten seconds off the pace I suppose!" he joked. "So I don’t think there is a big risk to do it, but I don’t want that time delay.

"I want to come back here next year [for the first 2020 test] as strong as possible. Whether having the metalwork out will be a problem, or whether not having it out will be a problem, I don’t know. But I'm more swayed towards not having it out at the moment."

Is there an alternative to help with the pain, other than surgery?

"Take drugs!" he laughed.

Crutchlow's injury absence from last November's Valencia and Jerez tests meant Crutchlow couldn't provide feedback on the 2019 Honda until Sepang, just a month before the start of the new season.

The only Honda rider other than Marc Marquez to stand on the podium this season, Crutchlow heads to the Valencia season finale holding ninth in the world championship.