Bayern Munich's club doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt has confirmed Franck Ribery is making good progress in his recovery from a persistent knee problem.
The Frenchman has been absent for almost a month due to tendinitis in his left knee and it was feared he may need an operation that would rule him out until next March, but Muller-Wohlfahrt believes he could be back before the end of the year.
"Franck is doing a lot better," he said. "We will follow his progress for a month and then re-evaluate.
"We cannot definitely exclude an operation, but I currently favour a more conventional treatment."
Ribery has already been ruled out of France's World Cup play-off matches against the Republic of Ireland next month, but he could still play a part in some of Bayern's final fixtures of 2009, should he continue to make good progress.
"It is certainly foreseeable for him to return before the end of the year," Muller-Wohlfahrt told L'Equipe newspaper.
However, according to Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer, even that may be too late to save his side's hopes of success this season.
Beckenbauer believes the 26-year-old is a fundamental part of the team and that his side risks losing more matches before he returns.
"Franck Ribery has made the difference in the last two years and when he is not there, then the other players don't have something to orientate themselves around," he told Sky television.
"When our key player Franck Ribery is back, the team looks totally different.
"We have got to make do with being primitive now. We cannot expect anything magical. We can only expect that when Ribery is back and when (Arjen) Robben is fit again."
Bayern currently lie fifth in the Bundesliga, four points behind the league leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg.
However, their future in the Champions League is hanging in the balance after a 2-1 defeat at Bordeaux last week.
They need to beat the French side at the Allianz Arena next week or risk losing ground on the top two in their group.Reuse content