Leon Best insists he is still on target to make it out of the Newcastle United treatment room and onto the pitch before the end of the season.
The 25-year-old had been playing some of his best football for the club since signing from Coventry in 2010.
But a knee injury in their win over struggling Aston Villa in February relegated him to a seat in the stands and out of Newcastle's outstanding season.
And, although he is close to getting back into training, a return to the first team cannot come soon for the hitman who is desperate to be part of their Euro charge.
"I start running soon, so hopefully I'll be back," Best told the Shields Gazette. "My aim's to be back this season, and I'm definitely going to push to be back.
"I'm due to see the specialist again, and I think he'll tell me when I can do other things.
"I'd love to get a couple of games, which would give me a chance to get in the squad for next season, when we'd love to be in Europe.
"I hate not being able to play," he added. "Obviously, I'd love to be out there.
"It almost feels like I am out there when I'm watching. I'm kicking every ball, and willing the lads on.
"As long as we're winning and still getting points, that's the main thing. We're still well up there and playing good football. We've got some good games coming up."