TOM Savage is counting down the days until his next shave.
The Gloucester captain has grown an ‘injury beard’ since tearing his pectoral muscle against Leicester Tigers in November.
But he is a whisker away from making his comeback and is aiming to be razor-sharp upon his return which could be as soon as next month’s clash with Northampton Saints.
Savage, 24, said: “We’re looking to get back into rugby in the next two to three weeks. The rehab is going well and I’m a little bit ahead, if not on par with where I should be which is great.
“Someone said I should grow a beard while I was injured but I’m starting to wonder whether it was a good or bad idea. Fingers crossed I will be able to have a shave soon.
“It’s just a case of making sure I’m 100 per cent fit because the last thing you want is to come back a week early and be back to square one.
“It’s really stepping up now, I’m really loading it , going from single arm weights to double arm and doing fitness every day, out on the pitch and running.
“The positive of an upper body injury is you can get back running quite quickly so I’ve done a lot of that, skill work and been flogged on the Wattbike, which is one of the worst machines about.
“There’s a big chunk of rugby to come at the end of the season and I’m looking to hit the ground running.”
Gloucester have won just two Premiership clashes since Savage suffered the increasingly common injury at the bottom of a ruck.
He admits it has been hugely frustrating to be stuck on the side-lines in such a tumultuous season, especially as club captain.
Savage faces increased competition for a starting spot following the impressive emergence and development of both Elliott Stooke and Gareth Evans but he is up for the challenge.
He added: “There’s never a good time to be injured and with the way our season has been so up and down it’s been an absolute nightmare to be away from it.
“I tackled assisted and was about to roll away from the ruck but got cleared in the back and my arm got caught and went back past the point of no return. In the last couple of years Tim Molenaar and Nick Wood have had similar and there’s been some high-profile ones recently with Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Davies.
“But there’s light at the end of the tunnel now and I’m desperate to be back on the pitch and involved with the boys as much as possible.
“You’re always under pressure in selection. Whether you’re playing or not, we have a competitive squad and in both the back-row and second-row young guys are really stepping up.
“The likes of Stookey and Gareth Evans have put in some brilliant performances. The competition for places is better now and it will only push everyone on and make us better players.”