Barcelona star Xavi has revealed that Eric Abidal could be back in first-team action as early as November.
The defender has been sidelined since April following a liver transplant, but stated back in August that he was hoping to be playing again by December this year.
Blaugrana team-mate Xavi has now indicated that the France international could return to the side by the end of the autumn, and has hailed the 33-year-old's commitment to regaining his fitness after such a lengthy lay-off.
He told Sport: "He's amazing. An example. Not only is he a great professional, he is in the gym every day, morning and evening.
"I'm not going to say it will for sure be in November, but it's true that it will be between November and December."
The 32-year-old was quick to laud the impact Abidal has had on the Barcelona camp, and believes he sets a fine example to the youngsters at the club.
"He animates the dressing room, it's him who puts music on. It seems that he is happier with us than he was in the past," he continued.
"He is a person who should stay at the club as an example to the young players."
Xavi was likewise effusive in his praise of Javier Mascherano and Jose Pinto, claiming that the presence of such players creates a "unique" atmosphere in the dressing room.
"Mascherano is another example, how he trains, how he has adapted to the club, how he speaks. He is a leader in the dressing room and on the pitch," he added.
"Pinto is another example. It's extraordinary in this dressing room. I'm telling the truth. This dressing room is unique."