Bolton Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman has lauded Stuart Holden ahead of his possible first-team return from severe knee problems.
The 27 year old suffered cruciate ligament damage and required 26 stitches in a gash from a tackle that saw Manchester United defender Jonny Evans sent off in March 2011.
The USA international came through a reserve outing unscathed against Oldham last week and has travelled with the Wanderers' squad for Tuesday night's FA Cup third-round replay at Sunderland.
"First of all I think we've got to look at Stuart because the guy's been out for such a long time," said Freedman. "It's credit to him and the mental strength he's shown.
"He's a fantastic man to have around the place, he's been fantastic in training and he's got one more hurdle to go - that's to get into the team and stay in the team.
"That's going to be very, very soon. He's getting his opportunity because he deserves it."