Hull City boss Phil Brown is refusing to rule out Ian Ashbee playing again before the end of the season.
The club's 33-year-old skipper suffered knee ligament damage in May last year, a situation that has been exacerbated by a reoccurrence of a degenerative bone condition.
A visit to knee specialist Richard Steadman saw 30 holes drilled into his right femur and Brown is confident the procedure, designed to encourage growth, has been a success.
While he is loath to rush the player's return before he is ready the Tigers chief is backing Ashbee to make a full recovery.
"The beauty of Ash of late is that he's got a new focus in life, and that is that he can see light at the end of the tunnel," Brown told the Hull Daily Mail.
"When anyone can't see that, I can understand how they must feel and how hard it is to motivate yourself.
"But all of a sudden I can see a realignment of his focus and I think he can see an end to all of this.
"We're seeing a different Ian Ashbee now and long may that continue."