Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has admitted he is still not sure when Robert Huth will be ready for a return to first-team action.
The German international has started just eight league games for Boro following his £6million move from Chelsea last summer.
The 23-year-old central defender has been dogged by an ankle problem and had fresh surgery in the summer.
He is now back in light training, but Southgate has no intention of rushing him back.
"Robert has just returned to running," said Southgate.
"We are taking it week by week because it is important to get him right."
Boro had originally hoped Huth would be ready for action by now, but it seems a Christmas comeback appears more likely.
Huth misses the chance to face former employers Chelsea this weekend as they travel to The Riverside.
One player expected to be fit is Mido - who has spent the last two weeks nursing a hamstring complaint.
Southgate added: "Provided there is no reaction he should be ready for the weekend."
Tuncay Sanli and Lee Dong-Gook are also now fully-fit and available to Southgate, but Jeremie Aliadiere is still unavailable.