The sight of Liam Hearn back on the Mansfield Town training ground has put a smile on the face of everyone at the One Call Stadium with boss Adam Murray describing his rehab work as ‘superhuman’.
But Murray and Hearn have refused to pile any pressure on the situation and declined to speculate whether or not the free-scoring striker will play any part in this season’s relegation battle.
The Stags, who travel to fellow strugglers Cheltenham Town for a six-pointer this Saturday, have done all they can to help Hearn recover from his cruciate injury last August, the unlucky striker’s third serious injury in as many years.
Boss Murray said: “Touch wood, I am not putting any pressure on him, but Liam is flying.
“The bloke may be a human being, but he is some kind of creature I’ve never seen before. He is superhuman.
“He is non-stop. He is almost getting in before me in the mornings and then leaves late, giving everything he’s got to get fit. We are happy with the progress he is making.
“This game can be cruel and sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. We’ve seen that with some of our performances, but for the individual, he needs a slice of luck now in his career and his life. Whatever we can do to help him out, we will.
“But even though he’s doing really well, I am not going to rush to throw him back in.”
He added: “This is life work we are doing with him. Until I believe he is 200 per cent ready to put a shirt on again we will build him up progressively. He will get the right work and rest ratio.
“He is kicking a ball and getting into contact work as we speak.
“But just because Liam has made a tackle or in shooting practice he’s put four in the net, it’s not a decision I will take lightly.
“When I feel he is ready to make the step, it might be in three weeks, it maybe the last game of the season, it will be between me, him and the physio to make the right decision.
Hearn said: “It has been tough but it makes it easier when you have good people around you.”
“At the minute it is about setting little goals, rather than big goals.
“I’m doing light, non-contact training just now, such as warm-ups, a lot of ‘one on ones’ with the physio (Matt Fenney) including passive attacking and finishing.
“On top of that, I’m regaining my strength and stamina by doing a lot of outdoor hard running.
“There’s a lot of work still to do, and my training will be monitored before I can go into contact training with the rest of the squad.
“The gaffer has been hugely positive about me, both personally and when speaking about me in the media.
“All of the management, as well as the squad and the club’s staff have made me feel valued during my time on the sidelines. Everyone has been first-class with me.”