Aston Villa striker Luke Moore could be back in action as soon as January after it was discovered his shoulder injury is not as bad as was first feared.
Moore has played in all of Villa's games so far this season
Manager Martin O'Neill said on Monday that Moore, 20, could miss the rest of the season after picking up the injury.
But on Wednesday O'Neill said: "The good news is that Luke could be back in as little as three months.
"I worried it may be a season-finishing injury, but physio Alan Smith assured me that will not be the case."
He added: "Luke does need surgery and I think that the doctor feels he must get it sorted out soon.
"It's not helping him long-term to struggle on with this injury and it must affect him psychologically if he's thinking about it in matches."
Moore has been dogged by the injury for the past three years.
The player recently admitted: "The shoulder is painful when it comes out but once it's back in it's not too painful. I've been trying to put the operation off as long as I can.
"It first became a problem when I was 17 so it is a long-term thing."