Stoke City manager Mark Hughes expects Robert Huth to join in with the first day of pre-season training after a lengthy layoff.
Huth suffered a knee injury in a 2-0 victory over Sunderland last November, a problem that subsequently required surgery and ruled the defender out for the rest of the 2013-14 season.
However, the 29-year-old German is on course to join in with his team-mates when Stoke commence pre-season training next Wednesday.
Hughes told The Sentinel: "I've seen Robert this week and he looks in great nick, as you'd expect.
"He's been in all summer, working hard and looking forward to beginning pre-season. The hope is that he will start on the same day as everyone else.
"He's gone through all the stages. We were trying to get him back during the season and you're talking about Premier League matches and getting him up to speed for those.
"We are in a position now where we still have five or six weeks before the games start and he's in a good place at the moment to come back in the group.
"He'll be playing big-sided games and we're hoping to get back up to his top level pretty quickly."
Huth has made 148 Premier League appearances for Stoke since joining from Middlesbrough in August 2009.
In his absence last term, the versatile Marc Wilson stood in as the regular partner for captain Ryan Shawcross.comments