Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is confident that Jonathan Woodgate's latest injury will only force the 26-year-old to miss one game.
It had been feared that the Real Madrid star, who is currently on a season-long loan deal at the Riverside Stadium, would be on the sidelines for at least three weeks after picking up a leg injury in training.
He is rated doubtful for Saturday's Premiership game with Everton but Southgate thinks he will be ready to return to action against one of his former clubs, Newcastle United, later this month.
"Jonathan took a knock on his leg in training last week and it has stiffened up," admitted Southgate. "He's very doubtful for the weekend, but we're not looking any further than that."
Woodgate has been plagued by injuries since leaving Leeds United in January 2003. He made 28 Premiership appearances for Newcastle United in his 18 months at St James' Park before sealing a £3.4million transfer to Real Madrid just over two years ago, but he made only seven La Liga starts for the Spanish side in two seasons.
Woodgate was allowed to join Boro by Real manager Fabio Capello in a bid to prove his fitness and he had been outstanding in his four appearances for Southgate's struggling side.
England boss Steve McClaren admitted last month that Woodgate had only just missed out on an international recall for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against FYR Macedonia and Croatia.