Fabio Borini is back in training and targeting a return to the first team.
The 25-year-old has been out since the end of August with a thigh injury picked up in the 1-1 draw with Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.
With Duncan Watmore ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a cruciate knee ligament injury, Borini’s return is a timely one.
He is not expected to be drafted straight back into the starting line-up but could be on the bench at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea City this weekend.
For Borini, his return has been a long time coming.
“Too long, but that’s football,” said the former Swansea loanee.
“Thankfully I’m back now because I’ve been waiting for this moment – to be out there with my team-mates again – and it’s the perfect Christmas present for me and my family.
“We need everyone ready to play games and help the team – Catts, Duncan and Paddy are all out for a long time and we will miss them – so I will try my best and hopefully help the team pick up some good results.
“We will all do the same and work hard as a team to get more wins.
“I’m naturally fit – I don’t know why, it must be in the family – and even when I can’t train properly I do any work I can to try and stay sharp, so that always makes it faster for me when I do come back and start to play with the team.”
On his return to Swansea, Borini added: “If I’m ready it will be nice to be back in a stadium where I’m used to playing because I always get a great reception when I go back there.
“We have so many games coming up in the next few weeks and it will allow me to reach my maximum levels as soon as possible.”
Sunderland held an open training session at Hetton, where the Under-23s play their games, earlier this week with 500 school children watching on.
Borini added: “It was nice to see all the faces and it’s always great to do things for the fans. It is just one day for us but it is something they will always remember, so it was a great to see them and give something back.”