Jack Whatmough is ready to step up rehabilitation as he progresses following ‘pioneering’ surgery.
The central defender is this week scheduled to mark his return to outdoor work after damaging cartilage in his left knee in February.
The tear was double the length of the previous instance of the injury occurring, prompting a different approach in its treatment by specialists.
Following microfracture surgery, an artificial membrane was implanted over the troubled knee area and injected with Whatmough’s blood to help bond.
Considering the complexity of the procedure, the recovery has taken longer than usual for such an injury.
Whatmough has already suffered previous cartilage damage and a cruciate ligament injury to his left knee since his November 2013 debut.
The gutsy 23-year-old returned from both setbacks to re-establish himself in the first-team – and the Blues are encouraged by progress of his latest injury battle.
Head physio Bobby Bacic told The News: ‘With Jack, we always said it would take about a year.
‘He has undergone pioneering surgery, with a time frame of nine months to a year.
‘As it stands, the knee is pretty well settled and we are going to progress his load outside and monitor it as we go along.
‘He is on course for the timescale and will this week be training outside for the first time.
‘Jack is working very hard and working well, we are just cautious that there is always the potential for a clean up if the knee reacts.
‘At the moment we have over-stimulation and, if that stimulation becomes problematic, you can just trim it down and tidy it up.
‘As it stands that’s always there in the background if a knee reaction flares up.
‘If we did do it, it won’t affect the outcome too much within the time frame.’
Whatmough was enjoying the best football of his Fratton Park career when the injury struck during February's visit of Doncaster.
His outstanding performances had been rewarded the previous month, signing a fresh deal until the summer of 2021.
The Gosport youngster had established an excellent central-defensive partnership with Matt Clarke, with the Blues sitting second in League One before his injury.
Despite Christian Burgess stepping up impressively, Kenny Jackett’s side ultimately finished fourth and lost in the play-off semi-finals to Sunderland.
Whatmough has totalled 96 outings and one goal since a debut against Southend, while aged 17 years, three months and eight days.
During the 2016-17 League Two title campaign, the defender made 10 appearances, while netted as a substitute in an important 3-0 win at Carlisle in February 2017.