Roy Keane reckons Carlos Edwards will be ready to rejoin Sunderland's promotion campaign by Easter.
The Trinidad & Tobago winger was initially ruled out for between six and eight weeks after damaging his shoulder against West Brom at the beginning of March, and he has already missed three games.
But the 28-year-old said this week that he is on the mend and hopes to be back in time for the Black Cats' trip to Cardiff a week tomorrow.
Boss Keane admits Edwards has an outside chance of being fit for that game, but says it is more likely that he will be ready the following week, when Sunderland face three matches over the Easter period.
Keane said: "The surgeon Carlos has been to see looks after the rugby lads so sometimes his mindset is a bit different to ours.
"We don't think Carlos will be hitting anyone waist height or upwards, like in rugby, so we're hoping we can cut one or two weeks off the initial timescale.
"He's a fit lad and he has been able to keep jogging. He's been out on the training pitch, he's looking really well and he's making fantastic progress.
"Cardiff might be too soon, but you have to remember that the following week we have a couple of games in three days and we'll need the squad for that.
"If he was to be involved then, that would be great for us."
Sunderland take on play-off contenders Wolves at the Stadium of Light a fortnight tomorrow, followed by a trip to Southampton two days later on Easter Monday and they entertain QPR the following Saturday.
The return of Edwards would give Sunderland a huge boost as the Championship promotion race comes to a head, as the £1.5m signing from Luton has been in excellent form since his arrival in January.
Keane could also have long-term injury victims Graham Kavanagh and Stephen Elliott available again before the end of the season.
Midfielder Kavanagh underwent knee surgery at the beginning of January while striker Elliott went under the knife in February to cure an ankle problem, and both were expected to be out of action until around the end of this month.
Keane said: "Having players back lifts the other players - Carlos and Kav have been running and Sleeves (Elliott) joined in with the first-team lads yesterday, just nice and light towards the end and he did well.
"It's brilliant, it's good for any player who has had an injury to get out on the training pitch, I'm sure they have been frustrated.
"To see these lads on the training pitch is a great boost ahead of an important couple of months. We'll still have to be careful with them, but I hope they will be involved before the end of the season."