Everton striker James Vaughan is closing in on his comeback from injury after featuring for the club's reserve side.
The 20-year-old underwent knee surgery last December but now appears to be nearing the end of his latest fitness nightmare after playing 68 minutes for the Toffees' second string on Wednesday.
Vaughan will be hopeful of soon returning to first-team action as he looks to assist Everton's bid of making ground on the top five.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Tim Howard is confident of being available for Sunday's Premier League encounter with Aston Villa.
The American shot-stopper sustained a slight thigh strain during the recent 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic, but is expected to be fit in time for the weekend.
Howard told the club's official website: "It's okay, it was a sore strain that I picked up in the game. I suspect it will be fine for the game coming up.
"I haven't been training, I've just been off it for a couple of days - we had a day or two off - so everyone is getting back up to speed."