England Saxons prop Matt Mullan could return ahead of schedule from a serious hamstring injury.
The Worcester forward, one of English rugby's brightest front-row prospects, was hurt during Warriors' Amlin Challenge Cup defeat against Montpellier 12 days ago.
It was initially feared he could be sidelined for up to four months, but further medical examinations have shown surgery is not required and 22-year-old Mullan could be back within 10-12 weeks.
Worcester rugby director Mike Ruddock said: "Obviously, among the disappointment of the initial injury for Matt, there seems to be some better news.
"The fact that he doesn’t require surgery is a major one and a very positive prognosis.
"With Matt’s professionalism, dedication and desire, I know he will push every boundary to get back into action before the 10-12 week deadline."
A fully-fit Mullan might have found himself promoted to the England elite player squad for the autumn Tests, given that Andrew Sheridan (shoulder) and Phil Vickery (neck) are long-term absentees.
Mullan should be 100% before this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship kicks off in early February, increasing the possibility of a Test debut during that campaign.