Michael Owen stands a good chance of being fit for England's vital Euro 2008 double-header next month according to Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce.
Remarkably, the 27-year-old striker could even confound expectations by being included for United's game with Everton next weekend after undergoing stomach surgery in Munich at the clinic of top specialist Ulrike Muschaweck.
Initial predictions after he was diagnosed with a weakness in his stomach, which could have led to a hernia, and torn abductor muscle were that he might miss six weeks.
But Allardyce, speaking on Sky Sports News before today's game at Manchester City, revealed he could be back in contention within days.
'The second operation on the weaker side of his stomach today (has been) very successful as we know from the girl in Munich,' he said.
'Only a few days in terms of recovery we're talking now, and then there's the abductor to think about with the tear.
'But really good news, not like all the speculation that we are neglecting him - that was rather distasteful as far as I was concerned.
'He is with the best in the world and that is why it's only a few days' recovery.'
Asked whether he would rule Owen out of the forthcoming qualifiers with Estonia and Russia, Allardyce insisted: 'I couldn't do that - with what we've heard from Germany it might be a shorter recovery than we thought.
'Taking that and the abductor into consideration, who knows? He may even be fit for Everton next week.
'There's a possibility, the surgeon said. There was such little damage, hardly any at all, it wasn't really a hernia, it was just a threatening of one and she has tidied that up now.
'We think the recovery will be days rather than weeks.'
He added: 'We'll make the sensible decision for us and England, we have got to get both of them (the injuries) really cleared up and strong.'