Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates is hopeful that skipper Andrew Davies will be back in action in less than a month.
The captain is currently sidelined with a torn ankle ligament, suffered in the 1-0 home loss to Ebbsfleet United on August 11.
And while the club have been cautious to put a specific date on a return, Bates believes his defender will be available again by the end of next month.
Should he suffer no adverse reactions to the injury, or his subsequent recovery, Davies could be in contention for the trip to Halifax Town on September 22 or more likely Salford City on September 25.
“We are hoping maximum another three and a half weeks,” said Bates when quizzed about former Middlesbrough, Ross County and Bradford City man Davies.
“The swelling has come down, he looks good when he is walking but we still have to treat as a grade two tear - that’s four to six weeks from when he injured it.
“If we can get him back any sooner we, of course, will but it also can’t be rushed. It will be ready when it is ready.
“We will judge it as it comes.
“For the next two weeks or 10 days he will definitely be out but maybe after that he could be out of the training pitch.
“Andrew and the physio, with the specialist, will tell us when he is ready.
“I have been there with this kind of injury.
“It is OK walking with the injury but it can feel totally different when you put a boot on and run about. So we will see.”
The type of character he is, you’d have thought Davies would have cut a frustrated figure while out of action.
Bates says while it has been far from ideal for the player, he has been as involved as ever.
“He has been frustrated, but he has been pleased,” said the manager, who played alongside his captain at Boro.
“I am sure he’d have been more frustrated with the situation if the team had not been winning.
“He might not be playing but he is still the leader I always thought he would be. He has been to games and been in the dressing room.”
In Davies’ absence a number of players have stepped up to the plate.
Carl Magnay has shown his leadership qualities in the centre, Myles Anderson has also slotted in nicely.
But it is the performance of teenager Peter Kioso that has caught the eye most.
“I picked him out in pre-season as a top performer but we never knew how he’d perform in this league,” said Bates.
“I did think he’d do well, and he has surpassed that. The fans have taken to him, the lads have, too and he is a nice, nice kid.
“He is a lad who has just turned 19 - it is hard to believe that when you watch him.
“Because of the type of lad he is you want him to do well.”