Everyone within snooker will be delighted that Ali Carter could be back in action as early as September following his battle against lung cancer.
The two-time world championship finalist was diagnosed in May – and has received three intensive courses of chemotherapy.
But an extremely upbeat Carter, 35, who has won three ranking titles in his career, has targeted a return no later than the European Tour event in Bulgaria in early October.
That came after meetings with his specialists that confirmed an improvement in his condition, and effectively giving the green light to a return to the baize.
He has entered for Sofia, but could even decide to play in September qualifiers for the Indian Open and International Championship in Chengdu.
Winning his first match in those two events would require long-haul travel Carter is not sure he is yet ready for – and though ready to play in Barnsley, for that reason he may wait until October.
Carter, whose world No15 ranking has been quite rightly frozen, has already seen off testicular cancer – and suffered thoughout his career with Crohn’s disease.
It is more bad luck than anyone deserves, and Carter will be warmly welcomed back onto the tour by his many friends and fans.
The player has endured some incredibly difficult moments in the last three months but has remained resolutely positive as he tackled his debilitating treatment head on.
And he has had discussions with WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson about handling the situation of his ranking from this point onwards, and entry into the Masters and other events given his unwanted break and point-scoring opportunities missed.
Speaking to Inside Snooker this week, he said: “Obviously it will be very emotional coming back to play wherever it is – in Bulgaria, in Barnsley in September, and especially if I am at the Crucible next April.
“There have been some very dark moments but I have stayed very positive and my specialist told me on Friday that things are looking better.
“I have wanted to hear that to start really planning my comeback, with my ranking being frozen I had been looking at the UK and the Masters.
“But I don’t really want those to be my first tournaments so I will be going to Sofia for the European Tour event.
“And I had been looking at the qualifiers for India and Chengdu in September - though if I got through those events might not be ideal for me at the moment with all the travel.”
Photograph by Monique Limbos