The 25-year-old has only just begun his comeback from a knee injury after almost two months on the sidelines, and still has a great deal of work to do before he can start ball work and the process of trying to force his way back into Roy Keane's side.
But after initially fearing his season might be over, he can at least look forward to a return before Christmas, and that will come as a huge boost to both player and manager alike.
Keane told the Sunderland Echo: "Dean is ready for a bit of light jogging. But I have to emphasise it's only light jogging - don't be thinking he's ready for anything just yet.
"I have to make sure he doesn't push himself in any way, shape or form because that's half the battle when players are so eager to return, stopping them from straining themselves by trying to do too much.
"But it's a psychological thing, the fact that he's on the training ground and moving again.
"He saw the surgeon the other week and has been told that, at this moment in time, he is on course.
"There's still no need for any surgery and the surgeon is delighted with how Dean's gone along, which is great news for Dean because I keep saying, he is a very important player to us."