Seb Larsson could make his return to action tonight when Sunderland Under-23s host Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League Cup.
The Swedish midfielder has made a remarkable recovery from knee surgery in the summer, returning to full training this week three months ahead of schedule.
Manager David Moyes admits he is wary of throwing him back into competitive action so soon but he could feature tonight.
Meanwhile, there was brighter news on Jan Kirchhoff, who could return to training next week after a hamstring injury, while Lee Cattermole could also be re-introduced to training after a troubling back injury.
Vito Mannone is back in full training and could be in the squad for the Premier League clash at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow.
"Vito and Seb are doing really well, Seb might well play in the Under 23s tonight actually," revealed Moyes.
"He's asked to get some game time.
"He's only actually started to train this week and while I'm a little concerned about him playing so quick, he's keen to get back.
"We have a game next week when he can certainly get some time.
"Vito is closing in on playing.
"Lee Cattermole did a bit a training but didn't feel great and dropped out so we'll maybe try to re-introduce him to training next week.
"Jan Kirchhoff is a little bit the same but there is a chance he could train next week.
"There are signs that some of them are getting back to fitness but then again we lost John O'Shea last week."
O'Shea won't feature against Bournemouth this weekend, the 35-year-old skipper is out with a hamstring injury.
Jason Denayer is back fit though and is another option for Moyes along with Lamine Kone and Papy Djiloboji in central defence.
* Sunderland Under-23s host Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League Cup tonight at Eppleton CW (7pm kick-off).
After drawing their opening match at Cardiff City in September, Andy Welsh’s side return to Wearside with high hopes of sealing their first three points.
Entry to the game is free for SAFC season card holders on production of their valid 2016-17 season card.
Entry for non-season card holders is priced at £3 for adults and £1 for over 65s and under 16s, available via cash sales on the day of the game.