Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has been boosted by the news that Mido and Julio Arca are both closing in on a return to action.
Boro continued to slide down the table on Saturday as they were defeated 3-0 at home against Aston Villa.
They have struggled for goals in recent weeks, with Egyptian striker Mido sidelined because of a groin injury.
Mido has missed five of the last six games and Southgate admits he is unsure whether he will be able to feature against Reading this weekend.
"Because of the nature of the injury, it is not like a torn muscle or a ligament injury where you can put a definite time on it," the manager explained.
"He has been back close to full training a couple of times and then had a reaction to it.
"He feels a couple of times he has taken one step forward and two steps back.
"He has just has to be patient and we have got to be patient in waiting for it to heal.
"Sometimes you can push things too much and you just have to wait for them to heal."
Southgate has received better news from Arca, with the midfielder declaring himself fit and ready after a medial ligament problem.
Arca said: "I need one more week to train with the team, so hopefully if everything goes well, I can be involved at the weekend.
"The knee is doing well at the moment. It is still hurting a little bit, but everything is on course and I am happy with the progress.
"I am training with the team and slowly getting my confidence back, and am
desperate to get back in action.
"But I know I have to be careful because I don't want to return unless I am
definitely 100 per cent fit and confident.
"I will be training hard this week and hopefully involved with the team at
Arca accepts that the Premier League clash against Arsenal on 8th December may be a more realistic target for a return to the starting line-up.
"I am not saying I am definitely going to play (against Reading) because I might not be ready for a full 90 minutes, but I could get involved with the reserves at Bolton on Wednesday.
"I am looking forward to starting against Arsenal if that is possible, and obviously there will be plenty of games to play between Christmas and the New Year."