Giants left guard Justin Pugh, who has missed the last three games with a torn MCL in his right knee, expressed optimism on Wednesday about the condition of his injury and said he will be back “sooner than later.” Whether he is able to play in Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh remains to be seen.

“I think it depends how I come in [Thursday] and how I feel and if I practice and that’s how it goes from there,” said Pugh, who sustained the injury last month against the Eagles. “My goal is to feel good every day and keep building off of that, and I think we’re heading in the right direction. I’m going to be back sooner than later. I’m not ruling myself out. It really depends on how I get out there and feel in practice.”

Pugh took part in individual drills the last two days but has yet to take reps with the first-string offense since aggravating the injury in practice last week. He realizes now he pushed himself too hard in a bid to return and incurred a setback that kept him out of last Sunday’s game against the Browns.

“I know for a fact that I was pushing to be back for the Cleveland game, and it hurt my chances of playing, and it hurt my chances of playing this week,” he said. “Last week, I was feeling good during walk-throughs and individual drills. I said, ‘Coach, let me get some reps.’ First play, my knee got rolled into and it set me back. Lesson learned.”

Pugh will now be much more careful with how hard he pushes himself.

“It’s one of those things where you’ve got to make sure you’re healed up and you get that confidence,” he said. “Getting your confidence back is huge. Overcoming the initial injury and then the setback, it’s like, ‘OK, I’ve got to make sure I take the right steps and I’m smart about it.’ That’s something I’m doing.”

The Giants have used four different players at left guard, with two of Pugh’s replacements, Brett Jones and Marshall Newhouse, sustaining injuries. Adam Gettis played last week against the Browns and would play against the Steelers if Pugh isn’t ready to return.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

“Not being out there for the last three has been tough, but I’m happy as hell to see guys stepping up, because we’ve had injury after injury after injury at the left guard spot,” he said. “It’s been really impressive to see guys step into that role. That makes us a better team. Things are going to happen in the course of a season, and things are going to happen once we get into the playoffs late in the year. They need to step up, and we have, and that’s why we have a nice little six-game winning streak. But I want to get out there and prove that I can help us out with the playoffs. I’m excited to get back out there and help this team win.”