Michael Johnson has hinted he could return for Manchester City next month following 12 months on the sidelines.
The midfielder, who came through the youth ranks at Eastlands, sustained a serious knee injury in training last December and has not featured in Roberto Mancini's side since.
However, the 22-year-old is confident he has now fully recovered, and revealed he could be available for first-team selection before Christmas.
"I feel really good and I've started running again so things are going well," Johnson told City's official website.
"Fitness-wise I'm somewhere near the level I was before I had the run of injuries - probably stronger if anything.
"My knee feels great and I've had no problems whatsoever, but after two years out it takes time to build up to world-class endurance levels and that is something I'll be striving for over a period of time.
"I've not set any targets for myself. I just want to build up my stamina, play a few games in the reserves and then perhaps next month I'll be ready to play if and when the manager needs me."
City have endured a recent rocky patch, with just one win in their last five Premier League games, and will be looking for improvement when they travel to Fulham on Sunday.
Johnson feels he can help the Blues regain their winning ways by adding another dimension to Mancini's midfield when he eventually makes his return.
"I'd like to say I think I will be able to bring something different because every player wants to feel that they can add something to the team and I think I could give us a different option," he said.
"The team isn't quite firing at the moment, but we can score goals and it's only been the last two games that we struggled in front of goal a little, but I'm certain we'll start to click again soon, hopefully at Fulham on Sunday."
While conceding a spell on loan is not his preferred option, Johnson admits he will go along with whatever plans Mancini has for him.
"I'm not looking to go out on loan but if it's deemed something that will help me get up to match fitness quicker, we'll see what the manager wants to do," he said.
"I reckon I'll need a good few matches before I'm ready to challenge for a first team place because I've been out for so long."