Mexico's World Cup hopes boosted as Nestor Araujo closes in on Liga MX return

TORREON, Mexico -- Santos Laguna defender Nestor Araujo is on the comeback trail from surgery on his left knee and could be back in Liga MX action should Los Guerreros make the semifinals of the 2018 Clausura.

Center-back Araujo broke down in the first half of Mexico's 1-0 loss to Croatia in Dallas on March 27 with what turned out to be damage to his meniscus and medial collateral ligament and there were fears that the 26-year-old could miss the World Cup, but the Guadalajara native could be back training alongside his teammates as early as next Monday.

"Up until now that's what is spelled out in the recovery plan," Araujo told ESPN FC after his solo training session on Monday morning.

"[They said] that beginning the fifth week I could be ready to play with my teammates, unless there is some setback or discomfort that stops me being 100 percent to train with them."

Araujo has been training double sessions as he looks to strengthen his knee to be ready for Russia 2018 and was visited on Monday by Mexico conditioning coach Jorge Rios, who watched over the player's morning training.

Santos Laguna is guaranteed to finish in the top four of the Clausura regular season, although whether Araujo features again this campaign could depend on them reaching the semifinals.

"He is doing very well," said Santos coach Robert Siboldi following Santos Laguna's 2-1 loss to Pumas on Sunday. "We hope that in the week after the America game [on Saturday] he can train with the team."

If Santos don't get through to the semifinals of the playoffs, Araujo's comeback game would be for El Tri on May 28 against Wales in Los Angeles.