Middlesbrough defender Robert Huth could be set for a dramatic return to first-team action this weekend.
The German international has been sidelined since September with an ankle problem and he was not expected to be fit for another few weeks.
However, an injury to captain Emanuel Pogatetz could see Huth rushed back.
Huth was due to play in a reserve team clash with Bolton this week but that was postponed which was a blow in his bid to regain fitness
"Robert was very close to being on the bench last week [against Newcastle]," said Boro first-team coach Colin Cooper.
"It was a blow for him to miss the chance of a run-out, but he's certain to be close to the bench this week.
"It's great to have him back because you need your experienced players, especially at this time."
Cooper admitted Pogatetz would be struggling to make this weekend's trip to Hull.
"Manny has took a bang on his shoulder," he said.
"But he's a tough fella and he is quite positive about his chances.
"We have had it looked at and the great thing is there is no fracture.
"Manny is desperate to play and we are desperate for him to play because he makes a difference for us.
"You miss any player of his quality, so we will keep our fingers crossed. But it was a very nasty bang."