Sunderland boss Roy Keane has welcomed Kieran Richardson back to training this week after over three months out.
The England winger, 23, has played just three times for the Black Cats following a £5.5million summer switch from Manchester United.
But Richardson is hoping to recover from his back problem to make a first-team return this month - along with ankle-injury victim Russell Anderson.
Keane said: "Kieran will be like a new signing for us and Russell is not far away.
"The fans have hardly seen anything of those two and it will be a big help to us once they are fit."