Glen Johnson is in the frame to make his Liverpool comeback against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Feb. 16.
The England right-back has missed three matches with ankle and groin problems, and will not be available for this Saturday’s Premier League home clash with the Gunners.
Manager Brendan Rodgers initially refused to say how long Johnson would be out, sparking fears of a lengthy absence.
But the 29-year-old suggested last weekend that he was getting closer to a comeback -- and is likely to return to full training next week, according to his boss.
Rodgers said: “Glen Johnson’s making a great recovery, so there might be a point towards the middle or end of next week for him.”
Johnson has had a difficult run with injury and illness this season. An ankle sprain sustained during the 1-0 Premier League victory over Manchester United on Sept. 1 kept him out of action for almost seven weeks.
And just a fortnight after making his return, he had to pull out of a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Nov. 2 shortly before kick-off because of a facial infection that needed hospital treatment.
Johnson’s defensive colleague Daniel Agger is also close to returning from a calf strain suffered a month ago, but centre-back Mamadou Sakho continues to struggle with a hamstring problem.
Rodgers said: “Daniel Agger, we hope, will be back next week at some stage. Sakho’s still out for a little bit. But apart from that, we’ll be the same as what we’ve been, squad wise.”
Liverpool go into Saturday’s league game against Arsenal with one of the Premier League’s best home records, having won 10 out of 12 games at Anfield this season.
Only Chelsea and Manchester City have collected more home league points in the top flight this season, and Rodgers believes that Liverpool -- who are in fourth place -- can be full of confidence as they prepare to host leaders Arsenal on Saturday.
He said: “Arsenal are leading the pack. They’re at the top of the league, and we’re one of the clubs who have been chasing them during the season. But we’ve been brilliant at home. Our performances over the majority of the games have been outstanding, as has the backing from the supporters.
“It’s another big game for us. And I sometimes feel that the bigger the games are for us, the better we play – against Tottenham, Everton, Manchester United. Funnily enough, in the league game at the Emirates, we weren’t at our best. Arsenal were clearly the better team.
“But certainly for this game, we’re looking to take the confidence and belief that we have at home to put in a performance that we hope will get a win and move us up to that 50-point mark.”