Richard Dunne has set his sights on a return to training in two weeks after undergoing a second operation on his long-term groin problem.
Dunne has been sidelined since initially suffering the setback during Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign and has not played since.
But the 33-year-old central defender, who is in the final year of his Aston Villa contract, is finally hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Dunne told the Birmingham Mail: "The last operation I had seems to have really worked so I'm hopeful that I'll be back soon.
"I've set a few targets but I keep missing them.
"It's frustrating when I can do all the running and the rehab but not the final bit.
"But I'm hoping - fingers crossed - that I can start training in a couple of weeks.
"I've set a few targets but I keep missing them" - Richard Dunne
"I've got to see the doctor and from there, hopefully it will be the all clear."
Dunne has endured a frustrating period with injuries during 2012 after suffering a broken collarbone which caused him to miss the final part of last season.
He said: "I've been lucky not to have too many injuries during my career but it's been almost seven months where I've not been fit."