Jack Wilshere could be back in action for West Ham as early as the start of next month.
There were fears the former England midfielder would miss the rest of the season, with the club struggling to get to the bottom of his latest ankle problem.
Wilshere missed 11 games before December after requiring minor surgery on his left ankle, and following a brief cameo as a substitute against Newcastle the 26-year-old felt pain his right ankle.
Wilshere has been resting the joint ever since, sitting out another nine matches, and he will be absent again on Saturday when West Ham travel to Bournemouth, where he had a loan spell two seasons ago.
But manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed the ex-Arsenal midfielder, whose career has been peppered by spells out injured, is close to beginning his latest comeback.
“He is continuing with his six weeks of rest about his ankle,” said Pellegrini.
“He is in treatment and I hope that next week maybe he can start doing some running on the treadmill.
“He will be ready at the beginning of February.”
West Ham have been linked with a January move for Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson should they lose Marko Arnautovic to China.
Shanghai SIPG want to sign Arnautovic but have had a £35million offer for the Austria forward rejected.
Arnautovic wants to make the move this month but Pellegrini will only sanction the deal if he can bring in a replacement.
However, the Chilean remained coy over a potential move for Wilson, who made his England debut against the United States in November.
“He’s a very good striker but the rumours we want him are not true,” said Pellegrini.
“We have our players. We have Javier Hernandez, we have Lucas Perez, we have Andy Carroll, we have Marko Arnautovic in our squad. I’m happy with all these players.
“If we don’t have Arnautovic? Things can happen, when they happen we’ll see.”