Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas hopes Gareth Bale's return will help his side cement their position in the top four over the festive period.
Bale is fit to face Stoke in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday after overcoming the hamstring problem that has ruled him out for the last three weeks. The Welshman had looked in irresistible form prior to the injury, scoring nine goals and setting up several others thanks to his precise crossing and devastating pace.
Spurs will move ahead of Chelsea into third if they beat Stoke and then have winnable fixtures against Aston Villa, Sunderland, Reading and QPR in a packed festive season. Villas-Boas is delighted to have Bale back, saying: "Yes, we have missed him. He is an important player for us. He can make the difference."
"You saw what he did against Liverpool (when Bale scored and set up Aaron Lennon in a 2-1 win). He was outstanding. Players like him can decide a game for you and for us it is a tremendous boost to have him back, no doubt."
Villas-Boas warned any potential suitors that Bale's return does not mean he will be available when the transfer window opens, however.
"Completely impossible," was his blunt answer when asked if Bale would be allowed to leave White Hart Lane next month.
January could turn out to be a key month for Villas-Boas off the pitch as well as on it. Chairman Daniel Levy's love of delving into the transfer market is well known, and the club have been linked with a number of players including Christian Eriksen, Willian and Joao Moutinho.
But Villas-Boas said it was unlikely that he would be very active, preferring instead to concentrate on the potential impact that Scott Parker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul could have after returning from long-term injuries.
"We have a big squad. Our boost will come from the return of the injured players which are Scotty, Benoit and Kaboul," the 35-year-old said. "At the moment we are okay. We have a good squad, we have excellent players to count on.
"I won't say there won't be any addition but it will be up to me and the chairman to decide, although at the moment I think it's very premature to make that decision. If a good opportunity arises, as long as it strengthens us, then we will be looking for it, although we are looking pretty solid in every single position."