Paul O'Connell says he is on course to push for a place in Munster's Heineken Cup quarter-final against English champions Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop next month.
The 33-year-old, two-time European Cup winner, received another boost at the weekend to his hopes of a successful reintegration into the Irish province's first team after over four months out with a lower back injury.
O'Connell, the 2009 British and Irish Lions skipper, launched his comeback after surgery with a 40-minute cameo appearance for Munster A against Leinster A last week.
The veteran lock forward then stepped down to club level to turn out for Young Munster in the All Ireland League against Cork Constitution.
O'Connell has only played two games for Munster this season, both in Europe, back in October but is expected to play some part in the regions PRO12 visit of Connacht to Musgrave Park on Saturday.
This would enable the skipper to have two weekends of action before the Heineken quarter-final on Sunday 7 April and also put him in the frame for another Lions tour to Australia in the summer.
"I felt very sluggish at the start, but in the second-half I got going," said O'Connell. "There were a lot of scrums and lineouts and those things really do test the back - it was great from that point of view.
"I know Donnacha Ryan is carrying a few injuries, so he might need a bit of time off. Hopefully, I can get in there and get some game time.
"There are three weeks to go until the Harlequins match and it's possible to make it. If we were closer to that game, it's not something we'd be doing because you'd be draining the energy. But this is the time to do it and I'll have plenty of time to recover."