Twenty games have come and gone since Simon Gagne was on the ice in a Flyers uniform.

And it appears that at least three more games will be added to that list before the Flyers get a boost when their top left winger and two-way forward comes off the injured list.

Sidelined for a total of 24 games with a concussion he suffered first against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 24, then possibly reinjured against the Penguins on Nov. 7 after sitting out four games, Gagne is making steady progress, but is unlikely to be with the team when it travels to Florida for games against the Lightning tomorrow and the Panthers on Sunday.

And as for playing, well, Gagne still won't talk about a date, though he will say he is getting closer.

"It's very tough to say when I will be back, but I've got the feeling it's coming," Gagne said after Wednesday's practice. "I don't want to say I'm getting nervous but I get to the rink and I start to get the feeling that a game is coming soon."

Most importantly for both Gagne and the Flyers is that he feels completely ready to come back before he does. Before the Christmas break, Gagne was stringing together days of hard work with no symptoms.

He still has stiffness in his neck and is not sure if that is a related problem or separate, and is getting treatment to work that out. He is skating everyday with the full team, and when it's away, he practices with the Phantoms.

This weekend Gagne will most likely stay home and work out by himself, as both the Flyers and Phantoms are on the road, and the upcoming schedule for the Flyers will not allow for a lot of time at practice.

But Gagne is at least feeling better about his prospects for a return sooner rather than later.

"I think I'm heading in the right direction," he said . "I feel very good on the ice, the conditioning is starting to be better, but we're still working on the neck issue and trying to take that little problem away.

"If we get a good result with that we'll get closer to playing a game. That's the only thing that kind of stops me to be where I want to be. I would like to make sure that my neck is fine before I go back and play."

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