DAVID Meyler will step up his fight for fitness next month after benefiting from specialist help in America.
The Sunderland midfielder spent several weeks in Vermont last month at a rehabilitation centre designed for athletes recovering from knee injuries.
Although Meyler is not yet in a position where he can participate in full training, the Irishman has made significant progress.
Manager Steve Bruce hopes that after another month of rehabilitation work, Meyler will be able to join his team-mates in training and begin the first steps towards a comeback.
Sunderland boss Bruce told the Echo: “We’re not looking for him to join in for another four or five weeks.
“Meyler went to America and did fantastically well, they’re pleased with his progress.
“He’s out on the training pitch and is doing very well. He’s running well and you’d never think he’s had such a serious knee injury.
“He’s certainly benefited from being in Vermont and let’s hope it does the trick.”
The 22-year-old’s troubles date back to April 2010 when he ruptured every knee ligament in a horrific injury sustained against Manchester United at the Stadium of Light.
Meyler returned ahead of schedule last December, but his comeback was limited to five outings before he re-injured his knee in the win at Aston Villa a month later.
Although the injury was not as serious as the original problem, his knee remained susceptible to swelling.
Bruce handed the former Cork City midfielder a place on the bench towards the tale end of last season, but was wary of risking Meyler until he was 100 per cent ready.
With Bruce bolstering his midfield options over the summer with the acquisition of Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner and David Vaughan, he will again adopt a cautious approach when it comes to Meyler’s first-team return.