Nigel Clough has expressed his excitement about Steven Davies' imminent comeback but admitted fans will have to be patient.
The Derby forward has been sidelined since July after sustaining cruciate knee ligament damage in pre-season.
He has now been given the green light to resume training and should be in contention for a first-team return sometime in the New Year.
Rams boss Clough is looking forward to welcoming the 22-year-old back and says his versatility will make him a useful attacking option.
However, Clough recognises that it will take time for Davies to rediscover his best form and feels expectations should not be too high.
"We're all very excited, for Steven as well as ourselves, that he is close to coming back," Clough told the club's official website.
"We think he can play in any one of our five attacking positions (attacking midfield, behind the striker or as a striker) and it will be a nice choice to have.
"To have someone of Steven's ability available as an option will be lovely.
"We will have to be patient with him though, that is important.
"We can't expect him to return and be on top of his game, but we're pleased he is so close now."
Clough has also been impressed by Davies' attitude and determination to get back as quickly as possible from a serious injury.
"He has worked so hard in the last six months, before and after he got the injury, and the base-fitness he achieved in the summer stood him in good stead for his rehab work," said Clough.