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Gerbe practices; ready to return?

Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers - Game One

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 14: Nathan Gerbe #42 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 14, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Sabres defeated the Flyers 1-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Nathan Gerbe appears on the verge of returning to the Sabres’ lineup after undergoing offseason spine surgery.

Per the Buffalo News, the diminutive forward was skating on a line with Mikhail Grigorenko and Steve Ott at this morning’s practice.

Prior to surgery, Gerbe, 25, had been dealing with neck and back issues after being hit from behind (video) by Philadelphia’s Marc-Andre Bourdon on Dec. 7, 2011.

Buffalo’s next game is Thursday at Carolina.

Update (12:30 p.m. ET):

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff says Gerbe needs to be cleared by doctors before he can play on Thursday.