Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell hopes to be back in first-team action soon after making a rapid recovery from a serious ankle injury.
The England Under-21 international stepped up his rehabilitation with an appearance for the Toffees reserves against Blackpool on Wednesday.
Rodwell told the club's website, www.evertonfc.com: "Credit has to go to the medical team. I'm a few weeks ahead of schedule."
It was feared the 19-year-old could be out for up to three months when he suffered the injury nine weeks ago.
It first became apparent Rodwell was ahead of schedule when he was surprisingly named among the substitutes for last week's Barclays Premier League clash against Stoke.
Rodwell continued: "I was meant to be out until Christmas time so I've done really well to get back by now. Now it's just a case of getting my confidence up and getting a bit of time on the pitch like I did against Blackpool.
"I'll get my head down, do some extra work in the gym and hopefully I'll get my chance again."
Rodwell has not played for the first team since being forced off during the defeat at Aston Villa on August 29.
He admits he still feels short of match-fitness but is confident it will soon return.
"The sharpness will come," he added. "It was my first game back in nine or 10 weeks so I'm pleased with how it has gone. I'm three weeks ahead of schedule so I can't complain, but there are little bits that I need to work on."
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