Mathieu Baudry could make his Doncaster Rovers debut midway through August if he recovers well from his ankle injury.
The centre half had been expected to be out until the end of next month after undergoing an operation on an Achilles issue.
But boss Darren Ferguson believes the Frenchman could return to fitness in time to face Cambridge United on August 16.
“We could be looking at mid August for Baudry,” Ferguson told The Star.
“But he’s been a few weeks already since the op and it’s six weeks until he’s back playing.
“If all goes well, he could possibly be back for the Cambridge game.
“He was one that we pursued for quite a long time.
“He will be a loss in a sense that you don’t want anyone to miss the start of the season.
“We diagnosed it fairly quickly. It didn’t show up on the medical. When we gave him the scan, it did not show up.
“He’s got this problem which he’s got since he started training with us.
“It’s a bit of bone in his Achilles that his hindering him a bit. It’s niggled away.
“It was a clear ‘get it done and get it out of the way.’”
An earlier than expected return for Baudry would be a welcome boost given the injury crisis currently facing Rovers.
Serious injuries suffered by three players in last week’s friendly with Newcastle United forced the cancellation of Saturday’s scheduled trip to Kidderminster Harriers.
Craig Alcock, Harry Middleton, Joe Wright, Joey McCormick, Paul Keegan and Gary McSheffrey are all currently recovering from injuries.
Rovers will compete in their scheduled friendly at York City tomorrow night.