Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said goalkeeper Fraser Forster is recovering well from a knee injury and is set for a return to training in four to five weeks.
Forster has been sidelined since he underwent surgery to repair a damaged left patellar tendon suffered against Burnley in March.
The 27-year-old England international is now in line for a comeback earlier than expected.
"He's doing very well, everything is going to plan and it is fast," Koeman said ahead of Saturday's trip to lowly Sunderland.
"I don't want to say he will be back in four weeks but it's going good. He could be part of the group in four or five weeks."
Koeman, who has used Dutch veteran Maarten Stekelenburg in Forster's absence, added: "He has worked very hard and is already training with Dave Watson, and that's real goalkeeper sessions.
"Everybody is happy with how he is and that he's recovering well. We know it takes a long time to recover to 100 per cent but he will come back.
"He's coming back from April which is a long time. He needs continued training and his first game will be in the under-21s.
"That's the same for everybody, goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders. Everybody plays in the under-21s first."
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.