Wales flank Dan Lydiate could make an appearance in the Six Nations, club coach Darren Edwards said after the Dragons forward underwent successful surgery on a broken ankle.
The 24-year-old Lydiate, the player of the tournament when Wales won the Six Nations Grand Slam last season, sustained the injury when playing for Newport Gwent Dragons against Edinburgh in the PRO12 last weekend.
It was initially thought he could miss the whole season but Dragons coach Edwards told Wales Online: "The length of his lay-off could be a bit shorter than first expected, which is good news for us all.
"We are looking at him being back somewhere around the end of February, early March.
"It will depend on how his rehabilitation goes but that does give him a chance of playing some part this season. I feared the worst at the time. But now he's had his surgery, there's more positive news for us.
"The good thing was that none of his ligaments were torn. That would have been a big problem if that happened. Now it's just about bone healing.
"The key decision will be whether the plate is left in or taken out. If the plate is left in, it could even be sooner," he explained.
Lydiate, who has been regarded as a leading candidate for a place in next year's British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of Australia, will in the first place miss Wales' four year-end Tests starting against Argentina in Cardiff on November 10.
But the farmer's son has previously recovered from a broken neck and Edwards said that would hold him in good stead in his push for making a comeback in the Six Nations.
"The way he has recovered from injuries in the past has to be a source of encouragement," Edwards said.
"He has defied a lot of serious injuries, so there is no doubt about his mental attitude or professionalism. He has demonstrated that before and we are confident he will make a full recovery."