Tom Croft is back training for the first time in eight months and could make his comeback in Leicester's clash with Gloucester on 29 December.
The flanker has not played since damaging his neck when tackling Nick Easter during the Tigers' game against Harlequins last April.
The 27-year-old required surgery, which saw him miss the remainder of the season and England's tour of South Africa as well as the first half of this campaign.
"Tom is probably a week away and that is good news for us," coach Richard Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.
"It will be a slow integration and we will have to look after him.
"He hasn't played for eight months and we are conscious of that. His injury was a serious one and it's about him being confident when he comes back.
"Tom has seen the specialist and he was pretty happy with what he saw. We will get him back playing and that could be as early as Gloucester.
"We will just have to see because he hasn't played for so long. I don't normally get good news like that from physios!"
Cockerill revealed that Croft has bulked up during his time on the sidelines.
"Tom has put weight on and is looking in good shape," said Cockerill. "He is 110kg now, whereas he has always been around 104kg.
"We feel that extra bulk will make him more robust; he actually looks like a rugby player now! It's just the healing of the bones that has to be right."
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