Darren Ferguson expects to have Luke McCullough available for Doncaster Rovers’ final half dozen games this season.
The Northern Ireland international had been expected to miss the entire campaign after suffering knee ligament damage in pre-season.
But he continued his remarkable recovery by returning to full training this week.
And due to the progress McCullough has made this week, Ferguson is confident he will feature in Rovers’ final few games as they look to secure promotion.
“If he continues the way he is, touch wood, certainly he’ll be back for the last five or six games,” Ferguson told the Free Press.
“He’s been brilliant this week. Outstanding.
“It was a really hard, demanding session that I did with him on Monday.
“He took a few knocks, won a few tackles and that was exactly what he needed.
“He was a bit stiff on Tuesday but we got it out of him.
“We’ve got a game pencilled in for the 22nd of March and if he was to continue to train the way he is and have no problems in the meantime, I think he could play in that.
“He’s way ahead of schedule.”
Ferguson insists he will not take unnecessary risks with the 23-year-old but is keen not to hold him back.
“I’m not going to rush him because sometimes players are looking good but they might get another muscle injury because they’ve been out for so long,” Ferguson said.
“It happens quite a lot.
“But obviously you don’t want to put the reins on him too much.
“We’ve got to be careful. I’ll go off what the boy says. He’s an honest lad.
“If he carries on training as the other players do, I see no reason why we can’t get half a game into him on the 22nd.
“He’s had that experience of taking a few knocks in training. Someone has tackled him, which he’s not had for a long time. For him, that must be great.
“He would be way ahead if we get a game into him in a couple of weeks.”
McCullough’s potential return will further add to the options available to Ferguson, whose squad is arguably the healthiest it has been all season.
Liam Mandeville is expected to make his return to the matchday squad for Saturday’s clash with Cheltenham after recovering from an ankle injury.
Defender Joe Wright is still at least two weeks from a return.
But Mitchell Lund is in contention to make his first appearance in a Rovers squad since August after returning from his month’s loan at Wrexham.
Lund had been out for five months with a kidney problem.
Ferguson said: “Mitchell has trained really well.
“He’s looked really sharp and I’ve been delighted with him.
“He’ll definitely be in my thoughts for Saturday to be in the 18.”