Danny Rose has revealed he is ahead of schedule in his broken leg recovery.
And a return before the season’s end remains the popular midfielder’s ambitious target.
I’m still keeping that dream alive for coming back this season, just as a carrot for myself to keep working hardDanny Rose
A recent routine X-ray to assess whether the fracture is knitting around a metal rod inserted into his left leg has boosted Rose’s optimism.
Last Friday’s scan confirmed there are no concerns – signalling the green light to step up his rehabilitation.
The 30-year-old has largely been without crutches for the past fortnight as he continues his fitness fight.
Rose was initially expected to miss the remainder of the campaign, an outcome which is still likely.
However, he is refusing to rule out a shock comeback before the season’s finale against Peterborough on May 5.
Rose said: ‘Rehab is going really well, all according to plan, maybe a little bit ahead perhaps.
‘I had an X-ray on Friday to see whether the bone is healing as it should be so I can tick off that box and step up my rehab.
‘The good news is the fracture is healing around the metal rod and the screws, so now I can kick on.
‘I had a bit of time off the other week, which was nice, because I wasn’t around the place.
‘Mind you, it was half-term and harder work away with the kids than here but nice to take my mind off the leg a little, even though I did a bit of work.
‘It has helped recharge the mind.
‘I’m now without crutches, too. There were four weeks with two crutches, then two weeks with one crutch on and off, sometimes two depending on where I was.
‘I still use one every now and again if I am in a hazardous place such as around the shopping centre or around the pool but for a week I’ve had none at all.
‘I’m still keeping that dream alive for coming back this season – just as a carrot for myself to keep working hard.
‘If it doesn’t happen I won’t get too down about it. I know I’ll be 100-per-cent right for next season.
‘My season’s not over yet, I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question, you never know,
‘I’m trying to keep myself as positive as possible.’