City have told James Meredith to expect “a long road” back as he steps up his recovery from a broken foot.
Meredith got the medical all-clear last week to start working outside again and had his first session of light jogging with physio Matt Barrass on Thursday.
The left back, who City would like to keep in the summer, has not kicked a ball since New Year’s Day.
Phil Parkinson can understand his eagerness to return but stressed that Meredith’s progress cannot be rushed.
He said: “It’s difficult to say how quickly he will progress but with an injury like that we’ve got to be cautious. We have to make sure the fracture is fully healed.
“James is the type who is itching to get back out there. He hates being in the gym and wants to be back on the training pitch.
“We’ve had to rein him back a little but that’s what you want. You want players desperate to be back out there.
“If you look at last year when he had his glandular fever, he got back a lot quicker than expected. Maybe he’ll do the same again.
“But with this one, because it’s a specific problem, we’ve got to take it day by day. It’s going to be a long road.”
Meredith had hoped to gatecrash Australia’s World Cup squad after a strong start to the season. But the injury meant he was sidelined when new Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou visited Valley Parade in January for the Preston game.