Seb Larsson is making good progress on his road to recovery from knee surgery.
The Sunderland midfielder needed to go under the surgeon’s knife on a frayed knee ligament injury picked up this summer, ruling him out of action for six months.
But the 31-year-old no longer needs to use crutches or a knee brace as his recovery continues.
Vito Mannone (elbow), Fabio Borini (thigh) and Adnan Januzaj (ankle) are the other long-term absentees in manager David Moyes’ squad.
The Sweden international, currently on the road to recovery, said: “It’s going really well.
“I’ve got no crutches and no brace on my knee anymore and I’m managing to do quite a bit now.
“So far it’s gone really well but obviously I’m very eager to push and do even more, so hopefully that will come shortly.
“When you play football you’re used to being able to move about and do things, so when you’re stuck in a brace and you can’t move very well it gets frustrating.
“After a week of that I’d had enough so it’s nice to be moving about and pushing in the right direction,” he told the club website.
Larsson had been a regular starter for Sunderland since joining the club in June 2011, making a total of 134 appearances for the club.
But he only featured in 18 of their league matches last season after missing a chunk of the campaign with a knee injury. Injuries and selection decisions limited Larsson to just five league starts under Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce.
Larsson was hoping for a fresh start under new boss David Moyes before being struck down with his latest injury that required an operation.