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Penguins’ Sidney Crosby Says He May Return to Lineup Next Week

Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ captain who has missed most of the season due to concussion symptoms and a neck injury, said he could return to the lineup by next week.

Crosby, who led the National Hockey League team in scoring last season, was cleared to practice with full contact today, the latest step in his return attempt. While the 24-year-old center said there is no official timetable, his return could come in less than a week.

“No sooner than Sunday, I would say,” Crosby said on the team’s website. “But I’m not going to sit here and put a date on it. It would be total guesswork.”

Crosby has been skating with his teammates and participating in non-contact drills since Feb. 6. He hasn’t played since Dec. 5 and was diagnosed with a soft-tissue neck injury last month. Doctors said the characteristics of the neck injury are similar to concussion symptoms.

“I’ve been through this before,” Crosby said. “Contact is the big step. It’s nice to be symptom free, but it’s not as fulfilling until you get out there. I just want to make sure that I take the right steps here and get back out there soon.”

Crosby sustained back-to-back head injuries in last year’s Jan. 1 Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals and again four days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed the rest of the 2010-11 season. Crosby returned to the ice this season for eight games until he was sidelined when concussion-like symptoms returned during a game against Boston on Dec. 5.

He was the first pick of the 2005 draft, and two years later won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player at the age of 19, the youngest to get the honor. He also scored the gold medal-winning goal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, lifting Canada over the U.S. in overtime.

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