Newcastle striker Michael Owen is not giving up hope of playing again this season.
The 26-year-old signed a four-year deal when he clinched his £17million move to Tyneside from Real Madrid in August last year.
He has managed only 10 starts for the Magpies since as first a fractured metatarsal and then the knee injury he suffered in England's World Cup clash with Sweden in June sidelined him.
But Owen insists he is working hard in his quest to regain his fitness - and thinks the start of next year could be decisive in his quest to play again during the current campaign.
He told Sky Sports News: 'I've been here for more than a year but I've only managed to play 10 games. I want to get back playing again - but I'm still in the gym and I shall be for quite a while yet.
'I've been rowing, on a bike, working on a treadmill on an incline - and swimming.
'That's the case for another four weeks - then we'll start picking things up gradually.
'I've got to have a scan in and in early January we're hoping I'll be able to push on - the turn of the year is the important bit and then it'll be all systems go.'
He continued: 'I don't want to create false belief. When it happened (the knee injury) I thought `well I may as well write the season off'.
'But the operation was great and the surgeon was happy with what he saw when he looked inside my knee.
'I'd love to play again this season but at the moment it's impossible to tell - you've got to have a target though and my target is to play again this season.'
Newcastle have made good progress to date in the UEFA and Carling Cups - but currently occupy a place in the bottom three of the Barclays Premiership.
Yet Owen thinks a couple of victories could spark a major revival, adding: 'We've done particularly well in the cup competitions - but not so well in league. Arsenal away is going to be tough on Saturday.
'We've got some important games coming up and we need to pick up points in the league and progress in the cups. A couple of decent results in the league would take the pressure off.'