Preston North End striker Stevie May is inching closer to full fitness after his long absence with a knee injury.
The Scottish front man was able to join in training with his PNE team-mates during the international break, a big step forward following more than 10 months on the sidelines.
May suffered severe damage to his knee ligaments against Fulham at Craven Cottage last November.
It has been a slow road to recovery, with the knee having to be given time to settle down before the 23-year-old had surgery in February.
He will need a period of training and some friendly match action before being ready for a first-time return.
But North End boss Simon Grayson says May’s return to the training pitch is a major step forward.
“Stevie is back joining in with the squad again,” Grayson told the Evening Post.
“It is not full contact yet, he is floating around the edge of things, doing some finishing and other bits and bobs.
“However, it is great to see him out there because it has been a long hard slog.
“When Stevie walked out on to the training pitch the other day, the other players gave him a big round of applause.
“He is a popular lad and no one wants to see any player injured in the way he was.
“We will ease Stevie back in, he will come back into the squad, do all the daily stuff and then we’ll get him some games.
“After that, he will be ready to be in the squad for matches.
“It’s been a slow, long process but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are not too far off a year since Stevie suffered the injury and that was about the time span we expected.
“He did two ligaments and a few years ago, an injury like that would have meant the end of a player’s career.
“Medicine and treatment have moved on thankfully and he will be back with us soon.”
May was injured in only his eighth appearance for PNE following a big-money move from Sheffield Wednesday in September last year.
When he was injured against Fulham, May had only been on the pitch for a few minutes as a substitute.
Since the summer, May has had Calum Woods in the gym for company, Woods having suffered a similar knee injury in a pre-season friendly.
Grayson said: “Calum is doing his rehab work in the gym and on the Alter-G machine we have here.
“It is good for him to be around the place, the other lads are giving Calum plenty of stick and having a joke with him which keeps him going.
“A lot of credit has to go to the medical staff here, they have to keep the injured players positive and appreciate what they are going through.
“It can be hard for the injured lads to see the other players going out for training every morning and enjoying the fresh air, while they stay inside in the gym.
“Our staff keep them going, and keep them motivated to make their time on the sidelines as short as possible.”