Long-term injury victim Jamie Proctor could be be back in a Rotherham United shirt before the end of the season.
The summer signing suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in August and it was thought he would miss the rest of of the Millers’ League One campaign after undergoing surgery.
But manager Paul Warne, whose team are up to fourth place after going 12 matches unbeaten, says the 25-year-old striker has worked tirelessly on his recovery and is closing in on a return this term.
“Procs has been doing loads of rehab,” the boss said. “His dedication to the cause is the best I’ve seen. He was towing about 60 kilos on a sledge in training on Monday.
“He’s trained so hard, I feel for him. Hopefully, he’ll be able to play a part for us before the end of the season. He needs to for his own sanity.”
The 6ft 2in targetman joined Rotherham from Bolton Wanderers and was looking a bargain buy at £75,000 before injuring his knee in only his fourth league game, at home to Charlton Athletic, on August 26.
In his absence, the Millers have broken into the play-off places. Yesterday’s 3-1 triumph over Oxford United at AESSEAL New York Stadium was their fifth successive victory and they have won nine of their last dozen outings.
Centre-forward Michael Smith has hit three goals in four starts since his January arrival from Bury and has formed a dangerous partnership up front with David Ball.
Warne said: “I won’t take a risk with Procs - and I don’t know where I’m going to get him in the squad - but I’d like to reward him for his efforts because his attitude has been spot-on.”
Another player also on the comeback trail is Darren Potter who has been out since the beginning of December with an achilles problem.
The midfielder, 33, stepped up his training by running on the grass on Monday and is set to rejoin the first-team group in a matter of days.
“The physios have always said it would be mid to late February,” Warne said. “I think he might be training with the squad next week. But then he has got a lot to do because he’s missed out all of December, all of January and half of February.”
Rotherham, who saw off the U’s with goals from Anthony Forde, Richie Towell and Smith, head to table-topping Shrewsbury Town on Saturday and could be backed by a 1,000-plus following.
Fans have already snapped up more than 750 tickets and the club have just taken an extra allocation of 280.
Left-back Joe Mattock came off in the first half against Oxford as a precaution when he complained of a tight hamstring. The Millers are hoping he will be fit to face the Shrews.