Stoke boss Mark Hughes says Jack Butland could be available for selection again by the middle of next month.
The Potters goalkeeper sustained a fractured ankle while on England duty just under a year ago and has not been involved in a match since, with his attempts to return to fitness being hit by setbacks.
Butland underwent his most recent operation on the ankle in December and he is currently undergoing rehabilitation in Qatar.
Jack Butland has been out for nearly a year after suffering an ankle injury on England duty
Giving an update on the 23-year-old on Friday, Hughes said that by mid-March Butland ‘could very well be an option’.
The Welshman said: ‘He’s had no setbacks – touch wood – since the last operation.
‘So the feeling is we’re very hopeful that he’ll be back very soon.
‘I think he’s got a meeting with a consultant in a week or two’s time, and I think that’s when he’ll hopefully be given a green light to do anything he wants in terms of full integration, so we’re looking forward to that.
‘Once he gets that then it’ll be maybe a couple of weeks more that he’ll be available for selection. That’d be great.’
The Stoke goalkeeper has undergone a number of operations since suffering the fracture
Butland took the opportunity to briefly meet up with his team-mates in the Middle East in the last few days, with them having been on a training camp in Dubai from Thursday to Wednesday.
‘He flew in to see the guys and he is in good form,’…