Stricken Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia could be back in action as early as February, according to manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Ecuador international's season was thought to be over after he picked up a horrific ankle injury during Tuesday's goalless Champions League draw with Rangers.
The 25-year-old is still facing a long spell on the sidelines after dislocating and fracturing his ankle, but Ferguson has given an upbeat reassessment of the injury following surgery on Thursday.
"Antonio had his operation and it was successful," he said. "The break was clean and we were delighted to announce that. It was a major concern for us at the time.
"There's ligament damage but we're looking at the end of February, which is better than we thought on Tuesday night.
"He's a strong boy and he's very positive about it - being positive helps in these situations."
Meanwhile, Ferguson has backed his squad to cope with the absence of Valencia in the coming months, adding: "It's a blow losing good players but, in the context of the kind of squad we have, we should be able to cope with it.
"You always fear when you have a good player out of your team it's going to be a loss. But having players like Nani, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung, plus Gabriel Obertan and Bebe means we have options."