The Washington Times - December 29, 2011, 01:23PM

Mike Green might not quite be ready to go yet. Forty-eight days since suffering a right groin strain, though, the Washington Capitals defenseman might have a real possibility of returning soon.

“I’m hoping next week. I mean I’ll skate tomorrow again, see how I feel,” Green said Thursday. “You never know. Maybe I could play. But it looks like next week.”

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Green and coach Dale Hunter were both cautious when talking to reporters about the situation at the team’s practice facility. General manager George McPhee offered a bit less optimistic of a timeframe on a return for Green, but any kind of possible return date is good.

In an interview on 106.7 The Fan, McPhee pointed to “later next week” and said Green is feeling about 80 percent right now.

“We have to be careful about bringing him back at the right time.” McPhee said. “We can’t have a setback and we cant have something that bothers him all year. We have to make this thing go away.”

Green was similarly reserved about what needs to happen to be in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 11.

“It’s just a matter of getting that function back. That’s just going to come with time,” Green said. “I’ve just got to be patient with that and adjust accordingly.”

Thursday was the third straight day Green skated with Caps teammates. He has also gotten plenty of work on the power play, an area where he’ll be a major asset. Dale Hunter has yet to coach Green in a game, and it’s fair to say he’s eager to get him in.

“He’s a great player and he’s going to add offense to our team,” Hunter said. “He can play a lot of minutes. Definitely any coach would be pretty excited to get him back. But we’ve got to be smart. We cant get him hurt again.”

But, restraint is essential.

“I think we want to play this safe. Obviously I’ve been out for a long time and want to get back, but I want to make sure I’m ready to play,” Green said. “No need to put myself in a dangerous situation if I’m not ready.”