University of Washington Huskies center Juan Garcia, who initially feared his football career might be over when he suffered a serious foot injury during spring practice in April, said Wednesday he thinks he could be ready to return by mid-to-late September.

Washington center Juan Garcia, who initially feared his career might be over when he suffered a serious foot injury during spring practice in April, said Wednesday he thinks he could be ready to return by mid-to-late September.

“It’s way ahead of schedule,” Garcia said, adding that he thinks there’s a chance he could return “two games into the season.”

Garcia suffered a Lisfranc injury — a complex sprain of his mid-left foot — during a scrimmage in April. He decided against having surgery, which would have almost certainly ruled out playing this season, to take a chance that the foot might heal on its own. Wednesday, Garcia said that decision “has been a good thing” and that his most recent examination showed that the recovery is going better than hoped. He’s due for another examination next week.

Last week, Garcia was finally able to remove a protective boot on the foot and begin walking freely. He hopes to start jogging soon.

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Still, the fact that the foot is healing ahead of schedule doesn’t mean Garcia can be penciled back into the lineup just yet. The injury is such that any recurrence could put Garcia back to step one, so UW trainers and coaches are sure to be cautious. He said Wednesday that he had pleaded with teammates to let him run a play in a recent voluntary 11-on-11, no-pads workout but that they wouldn’t let him.

Garcia said the real test of the injury will come when he returns to practice, which he hopes could happen in mid-August, “to see if [the foot] is actually going to hold.”

Garcia was a second-team All-Pac-10 pick last year and the anchor of a UW offensive line that with his return would welcome back four starters from 2007.

A graduate of Eisenhower High in Yakima, Garcia will be a sixth-year senior in 2008 having earned an additional year due to missing the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to injuries while also graduating on time.

Note

• Most of UW’s freshmen enrolled this week for the school’s summer bridge program, which helps prepare incoming students for college. That also allows the players to participate in workouts with team trainers.

Three who are reportedly not yet enrolled are quarterback Dominique Blackman, running back Demitrius Bronson and defensive tackle Craig Noble, all still sorting out academic issues. Indications are that all could make it in time for the season, if not for the beginning of practice Aug. 4.

Scout.com reported that Noble is waiting for a result on the California High School Exit Exam. Blackman told The Times he is waiting for an updated score on his ACT.