Papiss Cisse could yet need an operation on his groin.
It had been feared the Newcastle United striker was facing up to three months on the sidelines.
The injury is complicated. How severe? We’ll find out probably the middle of next week. He is running around and smiling.Steve McClaren
Cisse suffered the injury before Christmas, and his absence left head coach Steve McClaren short of striking options.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, United’s only fit, out-and-out striker, has been leading the line in recent weeks.
But McClaren has revealed that Cisse could be back in training as early as next week, though surgery remains a possibility if he breaks down again.
“We’ve had second and third opinions,” said McClaren.
“They have said ‘an operation is that length of time, but you could try it and see how it goes. If it goes, you’ll have the operation’.
“So he has stepped up, stepped up and stepped up.
“He’s still a bit to go, but it looks like he could train next week.
“The injury is complicated. It has surprised me. It’s a groin strain.
“How severe we’ll find out probably the middle of next week. He is running around and smiling.”
Meanwhile, McClaren has again insisted that he is happy for forward Adam Armstrong to stay at Coventry City for the entire season – despite his need for more firepower.
Armstrong – who has scored 16 League One goals for the Sky Blues – will have his half-season loan extended.
“He is getting great experience there and he is enjoying his football,” said McClaren. “We’ll keep him there. Tony Mowbray’s looking after him.”