Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante may play in the All Whites World Cup football playoff against Peru next month after all.
Veteran defender Durante injured his groin in a game for the Phoenix earlier this month and the early prognosis suggested he would be out of action for eight to 12 weeks.
However, a follow-up assessment with an Auckland-based specialist last week proved much more positive and the 35-year-old has been named in the Wellington side's extended squad for their match against the Brisbane Roar on Saturday night.
"Subsequent reports suggest the injury may not be as severe, with medical staff giving the captain every chance to be considered for the weekend's game," the Phoenix said in a statement announcing an 18-man group to face Brisbane in Wellington.
"Coach Darije Kalezic will give a full injury update at tomorrow's media conference, which could bring good news for All Whites fans hoping to see Durante considered for selection for the crucial Intercontinental playoff."
Even if Durante isn't deemed fit enough to return this weekend, his initial inclusion is a positive sign he could well still in the national squad to come up against Peru.
The first match of the home-and-away tie against Peru in Wellington is not until November 11, in 17 days time, with the return leg in Lima five days later.
The winner of the tie claims a berth at next year's World Cup in Russia.
If Durante is able to run out for the Phoenix, it would be a timely return to action for the A-League outfit after Italian defender Marco Rossi was ruled out with a groin issue that brought him to the sidelines in their 1-0 loss away to Melbourne City last weekend.
Classy Brazilian Gui Finkler is also back in the mix after missing the Wellington team's first three matches because of a calf injury.