Nicky Hayden is hopeful that he will be fit for the first pre-season MotoGP test at Sepang, despite injuring himself recently in a motorcycle crash.
The American broke his left scapula and fractured two ribs after falling from a bike in late December - in what was his first ride since recovering from a scaphoid injury he picked up in Valencia.
Although that recent crash cast doubt on his participation in the Sepang test, Hayden said on Tuesday that his recovery was going well - and that he was working towards being fully fit for the important run in Malaysia, which starts on 31 January.
"I'm quite better now," he said during the annual Wrooom media event for Ducati and Ferrari. "It has been two weeks today and now I can remove the sling.
"The first bit was a little bit uncomfortable because I broke three ribs, and ribs are never fun, but now I can take away the sling and do a bit of rehab.
"The goal is to be able to ride in Malaysia. It is going to be a little bit close though, because the shoulder blade I broke bad a little way through. But [there will be] no operation because it is not an easy one to fix, with a lot of muscle and other soft tissue that you have to cut for an operation.
"But I feel a lot better now - and the target is to be in Sepang. I already missed one test in Malaysia and I don't want to miss another one."
The Malaysia test is a vital one for Ducati, with the Italian manufacturer keen to make big steps forward with the GP12 bike that it hopes will allow it to take the fight to Honda and Yamaha in 2012.