Wolves striker Raul Jimenez could make a surprise return before the end of the season, according to manager Nuno Espirito Santo.
Jimenez required surgery after suffering a fractured skull following a clash with Arsenal’s David Luiz in November.
Nuno said he was “afraid” for Jimenez following the incident. However, he gave a positive update on the 29-year-old ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League tie with Chelsea.
Asked if Jimenez could play again this season, Nuno said: “We are truly positive that this can happen. It’s very good news the way he keeps improving day by day.
“Not only me but all the medical staff are surprised because he’s improving on all the concussion tests that we did previously two seasons ago. He’s doing really, really well.
“Just by seeing him running and lifting weights and doing all these strong training sessions it’s a big lift for everybody because first of all it’s [about] the man.
“It’s Raul, we want Raul back healthy and then we will get back Raul as a player and an important player for the team. The big lift for us is just having him around.”
Nuno stressed that Wolves will not take any chances with Jimenez’s recovery, adding: “We had a medical plan and these things are very responsible decisions to be made because of how serious the injury was.
“We have to be really patient and take the right decisions and this will require decisions from the surgeon, scans on the skull – all these things take time and we will proceed according to the situation. We will not rush or take any kind of risks.”
Nuno then insisted that, so far, Jimenez’s injury is not affecting the player psychologically.
Nuno hails Jimenez
“That part is not a worry for us because he’s exactly the same guy, always a smile on his face, aware of the process he has gone through and confident that he wants to return stronger,” Nuno said.
“Heading and how can he deal with this situation, how his brain will react to acceleration, deceleration, jumping and impact is another issue. That will come in time.”
Wolves beat Chelsea 2-1 the last time the sides clashed in December.
This time around, however, Thomas Tuchel will take charge of the Blues for the first time.