Crystal Palace have been handed a big injury boost as they look to avoid sliding into a relegation battle with the news that James McArthur could yet be fit to return before the end of the season.
The Scotland international has not played since suffering ankle ligament damage in the home defeat to Bournemouth at the start of February and was initially ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with the issue.
However, the midfielder has now confirmed on the club's official website that he is hoping to be back in action as soon as mid-April after his rehabilitation progressed faster than expected.
The 28-year-old told cpfc.co.uk: "It’s a slow injury and it’s taken its time to heal but the target is for me to be back in three weeks. I think it’s going to be tight, we’re trying to push it as much as we can but it’s got to be controlled as well.
"It’s not going to be a case of I’ll be ready to go indefinitely, but I’m doing everything I can to get it better so I can play as soon as possible.”
"As a player it’s the worst feeling in the world not being able to play and participate on a Saturday or Tuesday night to try and help your team, there’s that spot in your life that’s missing when you’re not involved on a matchday."
Palace manager Alan Pardew could certainly do with being able to welcome the 28-year-old back into his side as he looks to arrest an alarming slump of form.
The Eagles have not won in 13 Premier League matches since 19 December, and have fallen from their early-season position as top-half challengers to the verge of getting drawn into a relegation battle, as they sit just seven points clear of the drop zone.
They have, however, booked an FA Cup semi-final date against Watford at Wembley next month, and though that game may come too soon for McArthur, the midfielder will be desperate to be fit to play a part should Pardew's side progress to the final.