The new time frame on a possible return for Rotherham United's Shane Ferguson after three operations
The winger has been troubled by hernia issues throughout 2023 and hasn't played for the Millers since they safeguarded their second-status last term by beating Middlesbrough on May 1.
Two operations failed to produce a cure and the Northern Ireland international went under the knife for a third time in October.Manager Matt Taylor, whose team are in the drop zone, is taking encouragement from the fact that Ferguson is feeling less pain than he did after his first two ops.
“I'm confident Shane will be back for us,” the boss said. “I'm never going to give up on him playing again this season. I'm sure he won't either. The early signs are positive.”
Ferguson, who has made 76 Millers appearances since moving to AESSEAL New York Stadium in the summer of 2021, spent time recuperating at home and now has a tough recovery period ahead of him.
“We feel with Shane that that whole stomach and core region is going to be in a difficult place on the back of the amount of interventions,” Taylor said.
“The truth is, he's still a bit immobile. He's got a serious scar in not a nice place. That's another one, by the way. We're waiting for him to settle down. Once he starts moving we'll get a better idea.
“The underlying issue from all the operations and injections is that there is a whole load of scar tissue there that needs to 'release' slightly.”
The manager isn't ruling out the 32-year-old being available for selection at some stage in January.
In his past comeback attempts, Ferguson got as far as being out on the grass at the club's Roundwood training complex before problems surfaced.
“Fingers crossed, we'll see him out there in a Rotherham United shirt again,” Taylor said. “Sooner rather than later, hopefully.”
Meanwhile, Millers youngster Curtis Durose was an unused substitute in the first round of the FA Cup last weekend when his non-league loan side almost pulled off a giant-killing act.
The teenage attacker remained on the bench as National League North Scarborough Athletic drew 1-1 at home to League Two Forest Green Rovers who needed a stoppage-time equaliser to earn a replay next Tuesday.
Scarborough’s scorer was Alex Wiles, a former member of Rotherham’s youth set-up and brother of ex Millers midfield man Ben.