Steven Fletcher could hand new Sunderland manager Gus Poyet a huge boost by returning from injury ahead of schedule this weekend.
The 26-year-old Scotland international was ruled out for up to six weeks when he suffered a shoulder injury during what proved to be Paolo Di Canio's final game in charge, a 3-0 defeat at West Brom on September 21.
However, Poyet has revealed Fletcher is already pushing for a return less than a month later, and could even be involved in Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Swansea.
The Uruguayan told the Sunderland Echo: "There is a big possibility. It's some of the very good news from this week.
"Every player is important, but we know in football that there are a few positions that are key - the goalkeeper, the spine of the team and the main man up front scoring goals.
"We need goals, we need players who have got the ability and Fletcher is one of those players."
Sunderland have managed only five goals in seven league games to date this season and that, combined with an inability to keep teams out at the other end, has proved hugely costly so far.
The Black Cats have collected just a single point from the 21 they have contested and are currently six adrift of safety and marooned at the foot of the table.
Poyet will set about the task of addressing that situation when he takes charge of the club for the first time at the Liberty Stadium with derby rivals Newcastle due on Wearside eight days later.