Middlesbrough midfielder Julio Arca is hoping to make his first appearance of the season in Saturday's trip to Sunderland.
The Argentine midfielder has been out of action since injuring his ankle during pre-season, but has set his sights on a place on the bench at the Stadium of Light after playing 45 minutes for the reserves in midweek.
Arca spent six years with the Black Cats before making the short hop to Teesside in 2006.
"It's getting better, still not 100 per cent, but I managed to play 45 minutes so it's a step further," he told the club's official website.
"We did some hard work during the last two to three weeks, so fitness-wise I feel okay, but the legs get tired obviously.
"The reserve games give you the shape and get some fitness and pace back.
"Hopefully I won't have a reaction and that could give me a chance to be involved on Saturday - at least on the bench."