Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi says he is well ahead of schedule on his recovery from injury and has not ruled out playing again this term.
The 25-year-old had been playing through the pain of a hip complaint for over a year, but was sent for an operation in November.
It had been claimed that the operation would result in Ameobi spending the remainder of the season on the sidelines.
The Magpies have missed the striking talents of Ameobi and his fellow long-term injury victim Michael Owen, but they could receive a boost before the end of the season.
Owen has voiced hope that he could play again this term and Ameobi has now issued a similar statement.
"It's gone a lot better than I first anticipated, which is great for me," Ameobi told the club's official website.
"What I've got to do now is get fit, and get all the muscles firing and strong.
"That's the stage I'm at now, and hopefully in not too long a time I'll be back training.
"I've been working with the ball for the past couple of weeks, which is a nice change for me. When you're so close, you're just itching to get back.
"But you don't want to rush things, as that could set you back. You've just got to make sure everything's right before you step up."
He added: "There's not really a time put on it. It depends how quickly I get past each step, but hopefully I'll get a couple of games in this season."