England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is confident four of his key players will be fit and ready for this summer's World Cup.
Michael Owen, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Ledley King are all sidelined but Eriksson is pleased with their progress.
Cole has been out the longest, the Arsenal left-back having played just once in six months before a reserve team outing this week but Eriksson is happy to see him on the mend.
The Swede told the Football Association's website: 'Ashley Cole played during this week in a reserve game which Tord [Grip] and I went to see and he will be okay, I am sure of that.
'I wanted to see him play because I don't know when he is going to play again next. He looks fit and I think he took it easy in the first game.
'He's a quick healer and getting in form very quickly so I'm very confident for him.'
Owen, who broke his foot in December, is also close to returning and was even named in the Newcastle squad for Saturday's Premiership fixture against West Brom, although he is unlikely to play.
Campbell is now back in Arsenal first-team contention after ankle and toe injuries, although a broken nose has temporarily set him back.
Eriksson is pleased that both are likely to play again before the end of the season.
He said: 'The league finishes in a couple of weeks so if I had not seen any of them play in the last four or five months it would be very difficult for me to pick them.
'Of course we want to try as hard as we can to take Michael Owen with us to the World Cup. He's our best goalscorer without any doubt.
'I spoke to Sol during this week as well and he seems fit.'
King is now out for the rest of the season with a broken foot sustained against Everton last week.
He is the most doubtful of the quartet for the tournament in Germany but Eriksson remains optimistic.
Eriksson added: 'I don't think anyone is quite sure yet if he will available or not. It's a stress fracture but it's a good one the doctors tell me.
'I had a meeting with our doctor today so we have to wait and see what's happening.'