Owen Coyle believes there is a good chance that Lee Chung-yong will play for Bolton before the end of the season as the South Korea international prepares for a possible comeback with the reserves.
Lee has spent the entire campaign on the sidelines after breaking his leg in a pre-season friendly against Newport County in August.
He has stepped up his recovery over the past few weeks and, although Coyle will not rush into anything, a return to action could not be too far away.
The 23-year-old winger is set to undergo a series of fitness tests to determine whether he can turn out for the second string.
"From that point we'll look to build it up if those tests come back with good results," Coyle told the Bolton News.
"He would still be a couple of weeks away from joining the squad but then he will still need a couple of matches to bring him up to the level he has always been at.
"It certainly won't be this week or next week when we'll have him back in the squad but I'd hope he can play some part before the end of the season."
Lee's return would be a big boost to a squad that has been stretched this season by a number of long-term injuries to key men.
Stuart Holden and Tyrone Mears have played virtually no part this season and Coyle is in no doubt that the Trotters will be stronger next term with the trio back in the fold.
The manager nevertheless recognises that Bolton must concentrate on securing their Premier League survival so they have the chance to be more competitive in 2012/13.
"What is really important is that we know we have those quality players to come back into the fold," said Coyle.
"We have been without them all this year, but it's a huge boost for everyone at the club to think they will be back in among us next season.
"Having said that, we know we are being judged on what we do right now.
"And our focus has got to be on staying in the Premier League."