Mamadou Sakho could make a surprise return for Crystal Palace before the end of the season after tests showed that he has not torn a knee ligament, as first feared.
The French international was taken off on a stretcher during Palace's 1-0 defeat to Tottenham at Selhurst Park on Wednesday and there were fears that he could be out for months, throwing his future into doubt with Sakho expected to be sold by Liverpool this summer.
But with scans revealing that ligaments are strained rather than torn, there is an outside chance of him returning in a month. That would make the defender a possibility to face Manchester United on the final day of the season, a game where a Palace win could deprive Liverpool's eternal rivals of a Champions League place.
If Sakho does not feature again for the Eagles, he will leave the club as one of the most impactful loan signings in Palace history and certainly the best top-flight acquisition by anyone this January.
The 27-year-old had played nearly every minute for Palace after his February debut, only missing a game when he was ineligible to face parent club Liverpool. Palace won five of those seven games, including victories over Arsenal and Chelsea.
After that win at Stamford Bridge, Sam Allardyce said of his loan signing: "He's enjoying his football. If you'd seen him in the dressing room after the game today you'd see that.
"He is leading, he's talking to the players and it's helped tremendously in our defensive resilience.
"It shows what effect he has had in this team."
Crystal Palace will make every effort to convince Sakho to sign on a permanent deal but there is an acceptance that interest from clubs playing European football could drive the price too high.