Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne is working towards a return in time for Christmas after being given the all-clear to resume training.
• Dunne eyes quick return
Republic of Ireland international Dunne has made an appearance on the training ground with the rest of Paul Lambert's first-team squad almost two weeks ahead of schedule.
Lambert originally expected the 33-year-old to be out of action until the end of December and more realistically January, but Dunne has made good progress after a second operation on a groin injury that has troubled him all season.
Despite seeing Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker and Chris Herd pick up injuries in recent weeks, though, Villa manager Lambert is prepared to be patient with Dunne, who has not played a competitive game since appearing for Ireland at Euro 2012.
"We will see how he is and how he goes this week. He is still a bit away and has to get up to speed and get games under his belt," Lambert said. "Will he be back playing soon? I am not sure about that. It was only his first day on Friday. That was his first time since the Euros with Ireland really."
Dunne also suffered a dislocated collarbone earlier this year before returning to first-team duty late last season and has suffered numerous setbacks in his rehabilitation.
"It is really frustrating when you are sitting out and not being able to take part," he added.
Dunne has been impressed with captain Ron Vlaar's early impact and believes Clark and Baker have also acquitted themselves well, adding: "They've been brilliant. There's not been a problem, I don't think, defensively. It's just unfortunate we can't put enough of our chances away at the moment."