Newcastle United have been without Florian Lejeune for the entire season so far, but the Frenchman may be gearing up for a return.
The Magpies saw Lejeune impress last season following a 2017 move from Girona, and his performances even saw him touted for a move to Sevilla over the summer.
Newcastle saw him being a key part of their defence alongside Jamaal Lascelles, but disaster struck in pre-season, as Lejeune suffered cruciate ligament damage, ruling him out for months.
That forced Newcastle into the transfer market, as they signed Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez to bolster Benitez's back line.
Lejeune has currently been out for just over three months, but there have been encouraging sounds emerging from St James' Park about his return.
Lejeune would have to fight for his place when he comes back, but having impressed last season, he would be a major boost to Benitez's side after some struggles this season.
Now, Benitez has offered an update to the Shields Gazette, suggesting that Lejeune is 'fine', and whilst he doesn't want to be too optimistic just yet, he has been training and warming up with the squad lately.
The Spaniard feels the rehabilitation is 'going really well' for Lejeune, and believes he will be back sooner than anybody could have thought at first.
“The Italian people who did the operation are around, checking, and he’s fine,” said Benitez. “I don’t want to be too optimistic, but he’s had a couple of training sessions doing the warm-up with the team. On the ball, he can do almost everything, but he has to improve. He has to be stronger, quicker, and after he has to train with the team.”
“After training with the team for a while, we can take the risk of playing him in games. It’s going really well. We’ll see how long it takes, but I think it will be sooner than everybody was expecting at the beginning,” he added.