Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is confident Craig Gardner will return to action sooner than first feared.
The 23-year-old midfielder missed City's shock victory over Chelsea last weekend, and was expected to face three months on the sidelines with an ankle problem.
But McLeish has revealed that Gardner's knock was a recurrence of an old injury and therefore will not keep him out for too long.
McLeish said: "The good news is that it wasn't a fresh injury.
"It was an old injury which has changed the minds of the medical people about the extent of the injury and how long he would be out.
"At first we thought it could have been a couple of months, maybe three months.
"But it is not as bad as we first thought. Craig has improved this week.
"He has not joined the group yet but, in the not-too-distant future, we expect him to be back training with us."
Gardner is City's leading scorer this season with four goals and may be fit to face former club Aston Villa in the Carling Cup next week.
Meanwhile, boss McLeish has also received encouraging news about reserve goalkeeper Maik Taylor, who could return to the bench for the Villa tie.
He added: "We think Maik will be OK for the Villa game. We don't know for sure - but we're trying to push him for that one."