Antony Kay and David Martin could soon hand MK Dons boss Karl Robinson a huge injury boost.
Centre-half Kay has been sidelined for 10 weeks following hip surgery while first-choice goalkeeper Martin has been out since the start of November with a calf injury.
Kay has been pencilled in for a potential first-team return this month while Martin is expected to take part in full training later this week.
Simon Crampton, head of sports medicine at the Sky Bet League One club, told MK Dons' official website: "Dave and Antony are now working outdoors and have recently commenced the functional stage of their rehabilitation.
"Dave will shortly be returning to training while Kaysey will soon be handed over to the fitness team."
Robinson admits the duo's absence has been a big loss for his team.
He said: "Antony Kay is progressing really well and we're looking forward to him returning to training with us; I'd like to think he'd be involved in some capacity for Port Vale (December 21).
"He was involved in the second best defence in the league last year so he's been a big, big miss for us.
"The back four which played regularly last year has been decimated recently. We brought Lee Hodson in because we felt he was the future of the club. At the age of 21, I think Lee has showed you how good he is so I think we've strengthened in that area but then I go and lose my centre-back and my goalkeeper.
"Dave is my number one and he's been missed too. Ian (McLoughlin) is going to be a wonderful goalkeeper but has had a dent to his confidence recently."