David Moyes doesn't expect Jan Kirchhoff to make his Sunderland return against Manchester City this weekend.
The midfielder has been in full training for a fortnight and is closing in on a first team return but Moyes says that is unlikely to be this weekend.
Sunderland host City at the Stadium of Light on Sunday (KO 4pm) with the Black Cats not in action again until Saturday, March 18 when they host Burnley.
Kirchhoff has been out since suffering a cartilage tear in his knee in December and the Burnley game looks to be a more realistic target for his return.
Moyes said: "Jan Kirchhoff is doing okay but he's been out for a while.
"I wouldn't expect him to play this weekend but he's getting closer."
Steven Pienaar (calf) is also set to miss the match but right-back Billy Jones is fit to play after being subbed late on against Everton at Goodison Park last weekend with a head injury. Jones had stitches but is fit for the weekend.
Meanwhile, Jack Rodwell is also unlikely to feature against his former club on Sunday afternoon.
Moyes added: "Jack Rodwell has been in and out but the rest probably won't be available for this game."