Charlie Davies has returned to training with Sochaux, hoping to boost his chances of making the U.S. World Cup roster.
Five months after a near-fatal car crash in Virginia, the 23-year-old is working on fitness and doing some work with a ball.
He said Friday that he is "closer and closer to being back" and hopes to play for the French club before the end of the season on May 15.
"This upcoming week, I'll be on the field much, much more, and the shots and long balls will continue," Davies said. "More cutting and dribbling, hopefully some finishing."
Davies nearly died last October in a car crash that killed another passenger and left the former Boston College forward with two broken bones in his right leg, a broken and dislocated left elbow, a broken nose, forehead and eye socket, a ruptured bladder and bleeding on the brain.
Davies was a favourite to make the 23-man World Cup roster before the accident.
"It's great to prove people wrong," he said. "It just adds more fuel to the fire when people tell me, 'There's no way you're going to be back for Sochaux this season. There's no way you're going to be in the World Cup.' It really speaks volumes to how much I want it."
Davies has started an individual training program, running and doing some ball work this week.
"I've done technical training. Just individual, not team stuff," he said. "I don't have any pain anymore. That's a big positive.
"I'd say the most difficult is maybe just to get fit again. I started running, and it was difficult just to get my fitness back. But I'd say in three days I already got it back. I can run now without getting so tired."
Davies is aware of the efforts he still needs to make to practice again with his Sochaux teammates and be competitive.
"I'm just working on the strength so that I can shield off the defenders on the field," Davies said. "I just need to get my strength back so that I can have the explosiveness that I had before. When that strength comes, everything will be back to normal. I'm dying to get back with the guys. It will just be such a feeling of achievement. I'm just counting down the days till I'm back with the team."
Davies hopes to play a few matches in Ligue 1 before the end of the season so that he can make an impression on U.S. coach Bob Bradley.
"These next three weeks are very important," Davies said. "I think after that I'll be back."
Sochaux has 10 league matches left: six in April and four in May. World Cup teams must submit preliminary 30-man rosters to FIFA by May 11, and the U.S. team will gather starting about May 15.
Davies's club is out of contention for a European berth and pretty much is safe from relegation. Sochaux could afford to give him some playing time.
Davies had two goals in six appearances with Sochaux before the accident and has four goals in 17 games with the U.S. national team. He was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.
Despite all the time spent just healing and rehabilitating, Davies thinks he hasn't lost much of his skills.
"I haven't played the football that much," Davies said. "But every time I get a chance to, I feel so good. So it's not so difficult because it feels like it's coming right back. I thought my touch would be much worse than it is. So I'm pretty happy with that."