Burton goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson is on course to hand his side a boost by returning earlier than expected from a knee injury.
The Brewers number one ruptured knee ligaments in October and was expected to miss the majority of the season.
But manager Gary Rowett has revealed Tomlinson is ahead of schedule and could feature as early as the new year.
He told the Burton Mail: "Tommo still has a way to go, but at the moment he's well ahead of schedule in terms of his recovery.
"He's already into the second stage of his rehabilitation programme and if all continues to go well, he could be playing again in mid or late January."
With Tomlinson sidelined, Rowett has been forced to field Dean Lyness, 21, and the Albion manager has been suitably impressed by his five performances so far.
"Dean has done terrifically well and has not done a lot wrong," he added. "The technical part of his game is probably the best at the club, and he just needs the experience to improve his awareness and match intelligence.
"That's why it will be a major boost to have Tommo back."