Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray is hopeful that Scott McDonald could yet feature again this season.
The Australian international striker, who has hit nine goals so far this season, was sidelined in February after damaging knee ligaments at Leicester City.
The 28-year-old was expected to be out for the remainder of the season, but now Mowbray admits that he is progressing well.
"All reports suggest Scott has a chance of getting back quicker than originally thought. And yet I would be wary of being over-optimistic," he told the Evening Gazette.
"Towards the end of an injury like his you can push too hard and there could be a setback.
"It's all positive with Scott at the moment. I'm sure in his mind he wants to get back playing before the season is out. He won't want to face a long summer without a game or two behind him.
"I would hope that Scott's got an important part to play before the end of the season but let's wait and see, let's hope he has no setbacks.
"Medial knee ligaments can be difficult to assess because you can run in a straight line - I'm sure Scott could sprint in a straight line with no discomfort but as soon as you push off or you twist or make a tackle, you can open the injury back up again.
"So you do have to get the balance right with a medial knee ligament and make sure it is strong enough for the rigours of a professional football match.
"You can sometime get the wrong impression because the player can run in a straight line and be sprinting and bouncing about but a 50-50 block tackle, for instance, would really test it.
"You have to go through the exercises and build it up, build it up, build it up."