Injury-plagued Australia striker Josh Kennedy has received a promising prognosis on the lingering back injury that has niggled at him for the best part of 12 months.
The 194cm Nagoya Grampus striker, whose output has been reduced to six goals this season for the J.League giant in a stop-start campaign, visited a specialist in Japan last week and was told that a fix for the issue can be found.
“We are cautiously optimistic that Josh will be back sooner rather than later," Kennedy’s Australia-based agent John Grimaud said.
“It’s a question of looking at the best way forward and the opinion of the specialist in Japan is that the problem can be sorted out.
“It’s an issue with a disc and it’s been troubling him for a while, so we are looking at the options and the signs are promising looking forward.
“The issue has definitely had an impact on his season. With any back injury you have to tread carefully.
“But he has had the top people in Japan looking into it and he is working hard to get on top of it. A full recovery certainly appears to be on the cards.”
Kennedy, whose recovery will also be coordinated by Socceroos medical staff, last pulled on a national shirt in the 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualification win against Thailand last November.
His power and presence have been missed as Australia has largely struggled to find the net on a regular basis as the campaign to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup has unfolded.
He was the competition's top scorer as Nagoya won its first J.League crown in 2010 and the 30-year-old has a healthy strike rate of 15 goals for his country in 29 appearances, where much of his work involves holding the ball up and providing opportunities and space for others.
There were some fears that the injury might even prematurely curtail his career and news of his impending recovery will please Socceroos coach Holger Osieck, who, with Kennedy back in the picture, would have extra options up front where Robbie Kruse, Tim Cahill, Alex Brosque and Brett Holman have been sharing the load.
Kennedy’s absence has coincided with something of a form slump for Australia, which has won just three of the eight internationals he has missed, losing three others and drawing two.
With just two league games left this season, it appears unlikely that Kennedy will feature again for his fifth-placed club, though that is not yet certain.
He is also unlikely to be unavailable for Australia's 14 November friendly against Korea Republic in Hwaseong but should be ready for Australia's next 2014 World Cup qualifier against Oman on 26 March.
John Boultbee is set to relinquish his role as Football Federation Australia’s Head of National Teams to take up a role as honorary head of World Rowing (FISA).