Middlesbrough have been boosted by the return to training of long-term injury victims Willo Flood and Rhys Williams.
Flood has not played since the opened day of the season when he dislocated his knee, while Australian youngster Williams has not featured this season after suffering with a pelvic problem at the end of last term.
Both players managed to come through 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors game.
"They're getting closer," said manager Tony Mowbray.
"Willo brings energy to the team, so it will be good to have him back, while Rhys looks like a fantastic athlete, who cruises around the pitch, so it will be great to have him available in the near future."
Central defender Stephen McManus is also closing on a return after undergoing ankle surgery.
Boro coach Mark Proctor revealed: "McManus is probably only three or four weeks away.
"The initial estimate was that we might not see him until the very back end of the season.
"But he's been making steady progress and he's running again, and that's a massive boost for us.
"He's an international level defender. He's captained his country.
"You need players like that available for selection."