Blackburn Rovers are hoping Phil Jones will be back in first-team action within a month after the teenager made a quicker-than-expected recovery from injury.
When the 18-year-old damaged cartilage in his knee in December, Rovers boss Steve Kean feared he would be out for the season.
A successful operation prompted a more optimistic outlook but Jones was still expected to be available for only the final few matches of the campaign.
The defender's progress has been so swift, though, that he could be back in action next month.
Kean told the club's webstie: "Phil is back out on the pitch working with (physio) Dave Fevre so he's making good progress. He's coming on quicker than we thought, so hopefully in three or four weeks he'll be available for selection.
"That is another great boost. He was unfortunate to pick up the injury that he had, but he's a young man and he's healing quickly and that is something we are really looking forward to, getting him back in the fold.''
Jones is considered one of England brightest prospects and is already a regular starter for the England Under-21 side.