Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez hopes summer signing Alberto Aquilani may return from injury ahead of schedule now that the Italian has started running in his rehabilitation.
The former Roma player arrived at Anfield in August after Benitez paid £20million for a player viewed as an ideal replacement for Xabi Alonso, who joined Real Madrid.
However, Aquilani, who has a reputation for being susceptible to injury, has yet to play this season as he was signed when recovering from an ankle operation.
Benitez, though, has confirmed that the Italy international has stepped up his rehabilitation by beginning running at the Reds' Melwood training ground.
The Liverpool boss has now hinted Aquilani could return ahead of schedule, telling the club's official website: "He's going forward, progressing and he started running. If that goes okay then everything will go a bit faster.
But Benitez has not set a timescale for Aquilani's comeback, despite reports that the midfielder could be ready to face Sunderland in mid-October.
"We have not set a target or any time, but he's doing well," said the Spaniard.