Newcastle defender Steven Taylor says he is in the 'final stages' of his recovery from a ruptured Achilles which has kept him out since last December.
Taylor underwent surgery after suffering the season-ending injury during the Magpies' home defeat to Chelsea at the end of last year.
The 27-year-old has been working hard on his rehabilitation with Newcastle's medical staff and is hopeful of being fit for pre-season training when the Toon regroup in less than a fortnight.
Taylor told the club's official website: "Fitness-wise, I've just been maintaining my work rate and sticking to the programme that Newcastle's physios have set for me.
"I'm feeling good at the moment and I've just got to keep on going.
"In footballing terms, we're into added-on time with the injury now and I just have to keep going. It's sometimes like a 93rd minute run back from a corner, but you know you have to do it."
Taylor hopes the hard work he is putting into his recovery will give him the edge over his team-mates in the fitness stakes after their summer breaks.
The defender is hungry to get back on the pitch after his lengthy stint on the sidelines as Newcastle prepare for a return to the European stage in the Europa League.
"Hopefully, come pre-season, I'm going to be a little bit ahead of the rest of the lads fitness-wise," he added.
"I won't push myself too hard the first week back, but I will be like an excited kid in a sweet shop because I've missed playing so much."