Kieran Richardson could return to the Sunderland first team at Christmas after being sidelined since August with a back injury.
The midfielder has made just three appearances for the Black Cats since joining the club from Manchester United in the summer.
He is now being lined up for a festive return, along with Russell Anderson, who has been out for a similar length of time with an ankle problem.
Sunderland boss Roy Keane told the club's official website: "Kieran's doing a lot of stuff in the gym and we hope to have him back in first-team contention in two or three weeks.
"And let's not forget Russell, he's doing a bit of running and is about a week behind Kieran."
Meanwhile, Keane is hopeful striker Kenwyne Jones will be fit for this weekend's basement battle with Derby County.
Jones suffered a rib injury in the 7-1 defeat at Everton, but is expected to be available for the test with the Rams at the Stadium of Light.
Keane added: "Kenwyne's got a bad knock on his ribs, we'll see how it is."