Newcastle United midfielder Kieron Dyer could make his long-awaited return to first-team action on Wednesday after being handed a place on the bench for the Carling Cup clash with Portsmouth.
A recurrence of a hamstring injury has kept the England international on the sidelines for the past six months and the Magpies have badly missed his pace and energy.
The 27-year-old was not expected to return to the first-team squad until Saturday's Premiership encounter with fellow strugglers Charlton, but his performance in a behind closed doors friendly against Darlington on Tuesday persuaded manager Glenn Roeder to hand him an early comeback.
Roeder told the club's official website: "Kieron did very well yesterday and after talking to him, I have decided to put him on the bench tonight.
"He is very positive about everything and I know it is one of football's oldest cliches, but it will be like having a new player in our squad."