Crewe Alexandra defender George Ray has stepped up his rehabilitation from a serious back injury.
The 24-year-old has not played since fracturing his back against Yeovil in April but has now returned to training.
Ray, who came through the academy at Crewe, attempted a comeback in September but received a setback when medics said the injury had not healed.
"He has been out on the grass (training) for the first time," Crewe boss David Artell told BBC Radio Stoke.
"He has been up in Manchester on the AlterG treadmill which changes the gravitational force which goes through your body and he has been building that up from 60% gravity to 70, 80, 90 and 95% last week."
Ray has made 104 appearances for Crewe, scoring three goals, since making his debut in April 2013.
Artell added: "He can now run basically with the forces of nature pushing down through his spine, so that's now going to start the rehab process of him getting fit without him being strapped to a pair of shorts on a treadmill.
"We are treating him with kid gloves because we don't want him to fracture his back again and be out for another nine months. It will be after Christmas until he is fit."