Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho believes keeper Petr Cech could make a shock playing return in January.
Chelsea keeper Cech had surgery on his skull in October
The 24-year-old was not expected to play again this season after fracturing his skull in a collision with Reading's Stephen Hunt in mid-October.
But Mourinho said: "I could bet he is not far from being back.
"A lot of people, including myself, thought he wouldn't play this season but now the doubt is which month he is back - January or February."
The Czech international had emergency surgery to insert two metal plates in his head after he was injured in the match at the Madeksji Stadium on 14 October.
However, he has made good progress in his recovery and recently revealed he would return to full training early in 2007.
His recovery has been immense
Midfielder Frank Lampard said he and his team-mates have been taken aback by the speed of Cech's return.
"He's looking great, really good," said Lampard.
"His recovery has been immense. You don't see him for a couple of weeks and then all of a sudden he's back to old Pete really.
"It's good to see him training, even if it's tentative training with the headgear.
"Let's hope he's on the way to full recovery - the sooner the better."
Earlier in December, Cech insisted he had no fears about returning to action.
"Everyone is asking if I am afraid when I am back. But Carlo Cudicini said the main thing: 'How can I be afraid of something I don't even remember?'" he said.
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"That is exactly what it is going to be with me because I don't remember anything from the game. I don't even remember the injury.
"I woke up three days later and I had already 30 stitches on my head and it was difficult for me. But that game I don't remember so I don't think I am going to be afraid.
"Last week I spent a whole day in Oxford with the surgeon for some consultations and some tests. We are still waiting for the report from that but as far as I am concerned, we are looking very positive and very well.
"The brain is working very well and I haven't lost anything I had so for the moment it is looking very well."