Manager Jack Ross hopes that Duncan Watmore could make his full return to the Sunderland set-up in the autumn.
Watmore has been out of action since November last year after suffering a second ACL injury.
While the Black Cats are eager not to put any pressure on the 24-year-old as he makes his recovery, both the club and player have been pleased with progress and he was with the team during their pre-season training camp in Portugal last week.
Ross says he will be a ‘huge player’ when fit.
“He hopefully will be late September, maybe October for a full return,” Ross said.
“He’s doing really well. He has been out on the pitch, not with us but out there. He’s a tremendously positive young man anyway, so he’d always give you the impression that he’s fantastic in any case.
“But the feedback from the medical staff is very positive – they’re very happy. He’s a huge player for me if he’s back.”
Watmore made an encouraging return to action before the recurrence last season, losing none of his trademark speed and causing problems for opposition defences.
He told safc.com last week that is gradually gaining confidence as he nears a return to training.
“I’ve been out on the grass for quite a while now, a couple of months, building up the running,” he said.
“I feel really good. “Today was a lot more change of direction stuff, which is really important with such a serious knee injury. “That’s the thing I probably need to build my confidence most up on, that sharp changes on to my left foot. “But I watched a bit back from the film and I look like I’m starting to feel like it’s natural, as opposed to it being really obvious that I’ve got this injury, which is obviously what I need as I can’t come back if there’s still an issue. “I’m really positive and it’s great to be back with the balls out and back on grass, and getting closer to training.”