Boost for O'Neill as Jon sets his comeback date
In a statement which will be of great interest and relief to Ireland manager Marin O'Neill, Jonathan Walters says he's making good progress in his recovery after surgery and plans to be back in the Stoke City side next week.
Walters had to undergo an operation on a knee injury last month, the prognosis for recovery leaving him with a tight schedule to get back fit in time for Euro 2016, but the forward is more upbeat about his chances now.
"I am getting there now, thankfully," he told the club's website.
"It has been three weeks now since the operation and I am making progress, so hopefully early next week I will be able to join in full training with the rest of the group.
"If all of that goes to plan, as it has done since I had the operation, then all being well I will be available for the game with Sunderland," he added, referring to that fixture on Saturday week.
Walters admits it's been frustrating to watch his side in recent weeks as poor form has damaged their European hopes.
"The last time I played in the Premier League, away at Watford, we won the game and were really moving along nicely, but since then it has dropped off a little bit," he added.
"Results haven't been great for us over the past couple of weeks but I know the lads are determined to get back on track now, starting against Manchester City at the weekend.
"We have four or five big games coming up now against teams who have plenty to play for, so hopefully we can get back to performing to the levels we know we are capable of and end the season strongly."