Stoke boss Tony Pulis admits Eidur Gudjohnsen is still not fit enough to make his full debut.
Iceland international Gudjohnsen, a former Chelsea striker, arrived at the Britannia Stadium in August.
The 32-year-old has worked hard to reach match fitness since joining the Potters, making two appearances off the bench.
But Pulis says the summer signing is not yet ready to make his first start.
"I expect Eidur to play this season whether it's the beginning, middle or end," Pulis told The Sun.
"I've not asked why he's in this condition but he's 32 and maybe he's always rested in the close season."