Ashington defender Gareth Rees could be available for selection as early as September after overcoming an horrendous cruciate ligament injury before the start of last season.
Rees, was originally expected to have been ruled out for 18 months, but the lynchpin, after returning to light training, has defied all the odds and if he suffers no reaction, could come into manager Gary Middleton’s plans in the coming weeks.
Thirty-two year old Rees tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and underwent reconstruction surgery in mid-December.
“I’m really pleased with the way rehabilitation has gone,” he said.
“I have returned to light training and I’m looking to step up to full training within a month.”
Rees, a contracts manager for a specialist interior construction firm, added: “From there on it will be great to be involved in the set up again and provided I continue to progress in the same way, I feel confident and see no reason why that should not happen.
“I have been out for just over a year and am really happy – although naturally I don’t want to rush things.”
Middleton said: “It’s great that Gareth is on his way to full fitness and it will be good to have him back.
“He’s a very popular lad within the group in the dressing room and will be a part of what we want to do at this club.”
On Saturday Ashington host South Shields at 1pm in what will be their final warm-up match before the league season starts on August 10 when they travel to face FA Vase winners Spennymoor at the Brewery Field.