Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain returned to the pitch on Wednesday for the first time since he underwent back surgery in January to fix a slipped disc.
"[Higuain] began a new stage in his recovery process this morning. The striker worked out on the pitch today for the first time since his surgery and did ball work," Real said in a statement. "Higuain will be subjected to diagnostic tests in the coming weeks before starting the stage in which he will gradually rejoin the squad."
Doctors who carried out the surgery at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital said at the time that it would take between three and four months for Higuain to return to competitive action and up to a year before he is fully recovered.
The 23-year-old Argentinian international, who normally starts in attack for Real alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, has been unable to play since the end of November because of the injury. Higuain scored 27 league goals for Madrid last season, making him La Liga's second-most prolific scorer behind fellow Argentinian Lionel Messi of Barcelona. He joined Real in January 2007 from River Plate.