France fly-half Frederic Michalak could return to action as soon as early January, according to Toulouse physiotherapist Christophe Foucaud.
It was originally thought that the 22-year-old would be out of action for between six and eight weeks after he sustained a badly sprained ankle injury during Toulouse's recent European Cup victory over Northampton.
However, Foucaud told L'Equipe on Wednesday that Michalak's recuperation was going better than anticipated, and that he could be available early in the new year.
"It's going well," said Foucaud.
"He will probably resume light training at the end of this week or early next week.
"If that goes well, then I think he will be fine to return for the first matches in January.
"It is going well, but we need to wait for 10 days before we can be more certain."
France coach Bernard Laporte will desperately want Michalak to be available for the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations, when Les Bleus will aim to defend their Grand Slam crown.
Laporte is already without back-up fly-half Julien Peyrelongue, who has a knee injury.
France will open their campaign against Scotland on February 5.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.