Kenwyne Jones is expected to play for Sunderland Reserves in Hetton tonight as Steve Bruce looks to sharpen up his squad ahead of Saturday's trip to Fulham.
The Trinidad & Tobago striker has not played for a month after picking up a three-game suspension in the wake of his sending off against West Ham United at the Stadium of Light on October 31.
During November, he missed the victory over Arsenal and the defeats at Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic.
And while it is unusual for Sunderland under Bruce to play senior players in the second string, Jones is expected to start this evening to give him match sharpness.
The manager suggested last week that he was considering Jones giving a run-out before his return to the first team.
And while he has not gone down that path with other injured players – the likes of John Mensah, George McCartney and Paulo Da Silva – Jones is an exception.
As a big man, he could do with a competitive game to get him back into the groove and this evening's game at the Eppleton CW ground in Hetton will provide an ideal platform for him.
Keith Bertschin's side take on Wigan Athletic Reserves at 7pm, hoping to improve on the Wearsiders' standing in the Barclays Premier Reserve League. Bertschin will be delighted if he has Jones's services to call on.
But Bruce will be more concerned about getting Jones ready for the testing away trip to Fulham.
Whether the manager decides to stick with the 4-5-1 formation which has generally served Sunderland well in recent weeks or to restore Jones to the front-line in a 4-4-2 formation at Craven Cottage remains to be seen.
Fulham have a decent record at home, where they have not lost since September.
And Bruce will be anxious to prevent a repetition of the dreadful display his first team produced at Wigan at the weekend as he looks to improve away results.
He will be delighted though to at least have Jones available as an option again. With the end of Jones suspension and that of Michael Turner last weekend and Lorik Cana's the week before that, Bruce now has a full squad to call on apart from long-term injured Lee Cattermole and Craig Gordon.