Simon Hammersley is backing his Newcastle Falcons team-mates to finish the Aviva Premiership campaign strongly as he continues to battle back from a season-ending knee injury.
The England Saxons full-back is undergoing rehab on the anterior cruciate ligament knee injury he suffered at Wasps in October, explaining: "I'm about 15 weeks post-op now and everything is pretty much going to plan.
"I am back running, hoping to be sprinting in a straight line in a couple of weeks and then changing direction after that will be the next big step.
"Training-wise I am just gymming, trying to put on a bit of weight, and I'm in there three or four times a day. Our rehab guy Toby Banfield and all the medical staff are doing a great job, so touch wood it's all going to plan in terms of being ready for pre-season."
Delighted by the progress of the team in recent months despite the fact he has been unable to play a direct part in it, Hammersley added: "The boys are definitely playing some of the best rugby we've played in a long time.
"The last two seasons in which I've been involved have seen us having some games where we've played really well, but we have not backed them up. The difference this season is that we are getting more consistency, and that is the most pleasing thing.
"Going forward, we know there are a fair few winnable games in the run-in we have. That gives us a great chance to push for the top-six place everyone talks about, and our momentum at home is going to be a key factor.
"Saracens at home on Sunday will still be a good challenge, but they are not quite the same beast without all of their England boys. Given our home form recently it's a great chance for us to keep pressing on."
Admitting his own personal focus is on next season's comeback, Hammersley said: "From a playing aspect I have just sort of switched off to this season, because I know it's not a possibility for me.
"People keep asking me do I really miss playing, and it's a weird one because I felt the best way for me to deal with it was basically to switch my mind off to the fact I am a rugby player.
"My knee reminds me every day that I couldn't be on the pitch anyway, and in a strange sense it's actually a nice feeling to have that certainty that I couldn't be playing. It means I have a very clear goal in terms of getting ready for next season, and I am massively looking forward to that.
"It is about getting the volume of work in that I need on a physical sense, and making sure my skills are up to where they should be when I am fully fit.
"Hopefully I can push on and help the club to have a really good season, but between now and then I'm obviously right behind the lads in terms of wanting the club to finish as high up the league as possible."
Tickets for Sunday's home game with Saracens (2pm) are available by calling 0871 226 6060 or by clicking here.
Hammersley will feature in the official match-day programme as part of the regular 'Assume the position' feature, which sees him explaining the role of the full-back. Be sure to pick up your copy for just £3 in and around the stadium.