Stuart Holden could be back in action for Bolton early in the New Year.
The USA international has been able to make just one appearance for the Trotters over the past 18 months because of knee problems but is on the road to full fitness and is keen to be back in the first team in 2013.
"The first team is the main goal, I don't want to play in the reserves for the rest of the year," Holden told Sky Sports.
"It's more to get fitness and to get some game sharpness, because when you have been out for a while you lose a little bit.
"I have been doing all the work that I can, extra running, and doing well in the training but nothing replicates being in a match.
"We are probably looking in the New Year.
"I have been so hesitant to put a timescale on things because of how the last 14 months have gone. There have been so many ups and downs, when I think I'm there I'm not quite there and this time I know that I am there but I want to make sure I don't go back two steps again. Slow and steady wins the race and I will be back to full fitness before I know it."