Jordan Houghton is unlikely to be fit for the start of the new season but could still return to Doncaster Rovers in the current transfer window.
The Chelsea midfielder’s rehabilitation is ahead of schedule after he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in February while on loan at Rovers.
Darren Ferguson has turned his attention to adding more experience to his squad after landing young trio Niall Mason, Alex Kiwomya and Ben Whiteman, as well as left back Danny Andrew.
But the Scot says talks are ongoing about Houghton, 21, returning to the Keepmoat Stadium following his successful loan spell.
“The thing with Jordan is, and I spoke to Jordan last week, that he’s way ahead,” Ferguson told BBC Radio Sheffield this week.
“He could be available in this window.
“He’s running and he’s going to be training with the Chelsea group in a couple of weeks.
“I wouldn’t expect him to be fit before the end of August but certainly not far off that.
“So that’s something that we’re happy to keep on the back-burner.
“But there’s definitely ongoing conversations about Jordan, and that’s a massive positive for everyone really.”
Ferguson has previously said he would have tried to sign Houghton on a permanent basis this summer were it not for his injury.
n Rovers’ trip to Bradford City in the first round of the Carabao Cup will be played on Tuesday, August 8.