Mark Hughes is confident that Michael Johnson is closing in on a return to action after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.
The Manchester City midfielder has not played since the Carling Cup defeat to Brighton in September due to a long-standing groin problem.
Hughes stated earlier this week that he was optimistic Johnson would not have to undergo surgery.
Johnson will miss out again this weekend as City face Hull and Hughes admits it has been difficult to see such a talented youngster sidelined.
However, Hughes believes Johnson is finally making progress and could be back in training next week.
"We are moving in the right direction, which has not been the case in recent times," said Hughes.
"It is getting better and we hope Michael can start training again next week.
"We have been trying to get him back but it seems to be one step forward and then two back at times.
"We have tried intensive therapy, resting, putting him into training to try and overcome it, taking out of training.
"We may have to revisit some of those options. The key is to try everything to make sure Michael is available for us. At the moment he isn't."