Manchester City's Michael Johnson has revealed he is on course for a September return.
The injury-hit midfielder is battling his way back from a second major setback in his young career having undergone knee surgery in December.
The 22-year-old, who was just back in contention after a long-standing abdominal problem, saw his season cut short by a serious ligament injury in training.
After the operation it was thought he could be out for 12 months but the former England Under 21 international is progressing so well on the road to recovery that he is having to rein himself in.
"I won't be ready for the start of the season but everything is going well and we're looking at probably September time," he told the club's official website.
"I'm working hard and my knee feels good, it feels normal again. It's about building fitness now and not doing anything too quickly. One mistake and you're back to square one or worse.
"Lately it's been going so well I've been running a bit too fast - well, I have been out for five months! But I'm being told 'slow down', and I have to put the reins on and hold back.
"I've been back to the surgeon three times for check-ups and he's given the all-clear each time. You have to return after six months, so I'll see him in another month or so."
Johnson's knee injury meant he made only one league appearance last season after just three in 2008/09 but he believes the ordeal has made him stronger.
"I had to stop and my studs got stuck in the turf," he said. "It wasn't just the cruciate, but I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me.
"I was out the year before, so when you find out you're going to have 12 months off again it's gutting.
"But you have been through it before so you know you can get through it again. These things make you mentally tougher."