Chris Wood is closing in on a return to action after revealing he briefly feared for his cricket career.
The talented Hampshire left-arm seamer underwent knee surgery during the close season and has been putting in the hard work behind the scenes during his rehabilitation.
The 23-year-old has become a key figure in the bowling attack in recent years, particularly in t20 cricket.
And although he is unlikely to be in contention for the Natwest t20 Blast season-opener against Glamorgan on May 16, he is hopeful he will be back soon after as Hampshire bid to regain their crown.
With play abandoned without a ball bowled on day three of the County Championship division two clash with Surrey, Wood cut one of the few positive figures at the Ageas Bowl as he took a short break from his rehab work.
He explained: ‘Hopefully, I’m four weeks away.
‘It might be a little bit optimistic to look at the first or second t20 match but I am definitely looking at the third and fourth one.
‘Everything has gone really well so far in my rehab and I am playing my first second XI game in two weeks.
‘I will play as a batter to start with and then step things up from there.’
Although he is at a loss to explain how the injury occurred, he admitted he did have concerns over his future with a knee cartilage problem to blame for the pain he was experiencing.
He said: ‘It was my first operation and I didn’t know what to expect.
‘Of course, it goes through your head and you ask yourself “is it going to recover properly?”
‘You try to be positive as much as you can be.
‘But it’s human nature that you will think of the negatives at times.
‘So it’s a good feeling that it has gone promisingly so far.
‘I haven’t bowled at 100-per-cent yet and haven’t played in a game. That’s a different story, of course.
‘Nobody actually knows what caused it.
‘It could be anything. I played a lot of football when I was younger or it could be my bowling action.
‘It’s a bit frustrating that nobody knows specifically what the issue is because I can’t go away and not do that thing that caused it. I’ve spoken to the physio about what I should expect and he told me it’s been plain sailing for me.
‘I haven’t had the swelling that you normally get.
‘So all the markers are there to keep pushing it now.
‘The rehab has gone well, I’ve had no issues so I just need to keep going now.
‘Hopefully, I can come back quickly and hit the ground running.’
Wood has made remarkable progress considering it’s an injury that has affected former Hampshire stars Simon Jones and Kabir Ali.
He said: ‘It was called a micro fracture and basically, they drilled into the bone to try to reform the cartilage growth.
‘It wasn’t quite down to the bone but it had worn away.
‘I had some pain last season, then had an injection and that seemed to get me through but it came back again towards the end of the season.
‘I went to see a specialist but we got to Christmas, I tried to bowl and it still didn’t feel right.
‘At that point, it was decided to go in and have a look at the knee.
‘It was the same operation that Kabir Ali and Simon Jones had but theirs were on different parts of the knee.
‘I’m through the worst of it now.’