David Flatman could be fit in time to take on Bourgoin in Round 1 of the Heineken Cup
Injured England international David Flatman could make a dramatic return in time for Bath Rugby's opening Heineken Cup clash with French side Bourgoin.
The 24-year-old has been out of action since picking up an Achilles injury during the West Country side's march to Twickenham last season and had been expected to be sidelined until at least Christmas.
But now the 18st 7lb powerhouse plans to reclaim his starting berth before the European season kicks off.
Flatman is set to go under the knife to cure the problem and boost Bath's forward power ahead of their Pool 2 campaign.
And physio at the Rec Chris Mallac confirmed the Bath faithful could look forward to the tighthead taking the field within three months, but insisted the scrum linchpin would not be rushed.
'I would say that he could be back within 12 weeks,' said Mallac. 'Although we will not rush him.'
Mallac also confirmed that Flatman would probably still undergo an operation following further scans.
'It is the best case scenario,' he said. 'However David will return to the specialist today to have a further scan as a precaution to see whether there is a slight tear further up the tendon, but the specialist is confident that he will not find one.'
Former champions Bath return to European rugby's highest stage after missing out on the past two seasons but face a daunting prospect up against the likes of Irish giants Leinster, French outfit Bourgoin and Italian champions Benetton Treviso.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.