Clarets striker Lukas Jutkiewicz is hopeful of returning to fitness in time to help Burnley in their promotion run-in.
The 26-year-old suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in the 2-1 win at Bristol City in August – the fifth Burnley player in around 18 months to suffer a similar injury.
Jutkiewicz had gone into the season in good form, scoring four goals in the Clarets’ warm-up schedule, as he searched for his first competitive goal for the club.
He started three of the first four league games before the one injury footballers fear most.
But he is well on course for a return before the end of the season, along with fellow striker Ashley Barnes.
Jutkiewicz said: “I’m taking it a day at a time really.
“The medical staff know more than anyone how to deal with these sorts of injuries so I’ll leave it in their hands how to push me and when.
“But things have been going really well so far, so I would love to think I could play a part this season. Hopefully that will be the case.
“But at the same time you want to make sure you come back as quickly as possible, but in as strong a position as you can do so that it doesn’t happen again.”
He is now building his fitness back up: “It’s coming along really well, now that I’ve been back on the grass for a few weeks doing ball work and building up the intensity every few days – it’s a nice feeling.
“There’s nothing worse than having to see all the boys go out to training and having to be sat in the gym and not be able to do anything, so it’s a big relief to be out on the grass.
“Match days are the worst thing because that’s everyone’s end-game. You want to be out there competing on a Saturday or a Tuesday night, or a Monday night as it is this week. Those are the hardest parts. But the guys are going so well it’s been enjoyable to watch. There are some very big games coming up. The next few fixtures are all against teams in and around it.
“Those are the games in particular where you hope to pick up points, so that they’re dropping some at the same time.”
Jutkiewicz’s injury was relatively ‘clean’, with no other ligament damage, and he explained: “I was relatively lucky in that, although obviously it was a serious injury, it was completely ruptured and it was clean, and no other damage to any other part of the knee. The surgeon felt it was relatively straightforward and a quick operation so I’m thankful of that.
“I knew at the time I’d done something bad. I felt the crack straight away and I said to the physio that I’d done something, but I knew we needed to see out the game. I thought ‘well, I’ve done it now so I might as well try to see it out’.