Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing is hoping to be given permission to step up his recovery from foot surgery next week.
The 24-year-old England international underwent an operation on May 22 to repair the damage he suffered in a challenge with Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov in the penultimate game of last season.
Manager Gareth Southgate said: "We are very pleased with Stewart's progress. He underwent a serious foot operation, but he is determined to come back stronger and fitter as soon as he can."
He was told at the time that he would be out of action for between four and six months, a prognosis which severely diminished his chances of securing a move away from his hometown club in the wake of relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
However, Downing hopes to be able to take the next step in his rehabilitation programme after seeing a specialist next Tuesday.
Southgate said: "He is due to see a specialist in London on July 7 and we expect him to be given the go-ahead to step up his rehabilitation from there.
"So far, it's been as much about resting and allowing the foot to recover from the operation, but I know he will be keen to focus on some more serious rehab and make real strides towards getting fit."
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