North Queensland star playmaker Johnathan Thurston has been cleared to start full contact training following his off-season shoulder surgery.
But the Cowboys aren't ready to put a firm date on the Test halfback's return to NRL action yet.
With the season starting on Friday, Thurston, 23, visited club surgeon John Maguire for a check up and the news was positive on his progress since reconstruction surgery on both shoulders.
"It was a pretty favourable report," Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Glen Murphy told AAP.
"The doc said he's allowed to start contact training and go back into the fulltime squad.
"We'll see how he progresses with that before we make an announcement on when he'll be playing.
"We've just got to see how he pulls up. He hasn't done any contact work in six months."
Thurston, the Cowboys, has long been tentatively slated for a round five comeback.
Although it's possible he could play before then, the Cowboys weren't giving anything away.
"We're not going to stick our necks out and say when he's going to come back," said Murphy.
"We'll just see how he goes with the contact first.
"The doc said he's very happy with the strength he's got."
Manly recruit Travis Burns is expected to fill in at halfback until Thurston returns with Justin Smith to be named at five-eighth.
The Cowboys kick-start their 2008 season campaign with a blockbuster against Gold Coast at Skilled Park on Friday night.