Bath Rugby are confident that Francois Louw will play again this season after confirming the flanker does not require surgery on his injured ankle.
The South African suffered ligament damage in the second half of Bath's Aviva Premiership victory at London Irish on March 22 and missed last Friday's defeat at home to Sale Sharks.
Severe swelling delayed the club's medical staff from ascertaining a full diagnosis and it was feared that the Springbok international would be ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
But Bath head coach Mike Ford said yesterday: "Flow doesn't need an operation, so he will be back before the end of the season."
Louw is still expected to be out for more than a month and Bath's final game of the regular Premiership campaign away to Harlequins on May 10 is thought to be his most likely return date.
If that proves to be the case, Louw will be fit for the end-of-season play-offs – should Bath qualify.
Bath have received more encouraging injury news and fellow back-rower, Samoa's Alafoti Fa'osiliva, will also return from a knee injury before the end of the season.
And England international centre Jonathan Joseph and hooker Rob Webber will be back in action before the end of the month following their respective leg and ankle problems. Ford added: "Alafoti looks like he will be back soon. And with JJ and Rob Webber we are looking at Gloucester or Worcester."