Newcastle United manager Glenn Roeder hopes to have Kieron Dyer back in action before the end of October.
The 27-year-old has been sidelined for the last six months with a hamstring problem, but Roeder was pleased with the former Ipswich Town star's display in a practice match on Tuesday.
He told the club's official website: "We wanted to give Kieron an hour in a game that we can control, and he's looking in great shape.
"Kieron has been working very hard in training and he's going to be vitally important for us this season. This is more a build-up to him getting back to action for the first team because his comeback started some time ago.
"Kieron is very upbeat and very positive at the moment. We are working in short time frames, so therefore it would be wrong to pencil in an exact date.
"If all goes to plan, Kieron will be able to stand the pace of a Premiership game before the end of the month. I am confident that will be the case."