Charlie Wyke will today return to the Sunderland squad for the visit of former club Bradford City - and the striker is looking to make up for lost time.
Wyke suffered a nasty knee injury in September after a collision with Burton Albion Dimitar Evtimov, a problem with the same knee had kept him out of action after signing for the Black Cats in the summer.
But after another lengthy spell on the sidelines, the 26-year-old is back and ready to make his return against former club Bradford, with Wyke expected to be on the bench at the Stadium of Light (KO 3pm).
A bumper crowd is expected for the Boxing Day clash with more than 43,500 tickets having been sold in the build-up to the League One clash.
The former Hartlepool United striker completed 90 minutes in a training game with the U23s on Friday.
And having successfully negotiated that final hurdle, Jack Ross is delighted to have him back available to bolster his attacking options.
“Charlie is going to be in the squad, which is brilliant,” said Ross.
“He played 90 minutes of a bounce game on Friday and did really well.
“He is desperate to get back involved, and I think at the back of his mind he wanted to travel to Portsmouth at the weekend.
“But he will be back in the squad today and, all being well, that is him back now – although we will have to try and ease him in to an extent.
“Charlie is an out-and-out centre-forward and he gives us a physicality that no other player gives us, and he is proven in this league.
“I’m loathe to say he gives us an out-ball because he is a better player than that, but he does give us something extra.
“He looks fitter now than when he came back earlier in the season because we have been more patient this time round.
“He is a good character and I think he feels slightly guilty at coming here and not contributing so far, so he is determined to put that right.
“He has pestered me to get back involved! I wanted to make sure he was right and he is now back to fitness.”
Wyke’s return is a welcome boost for Ross, with Josh Maja struggling with illness and Jerome Sinclair yet to find his rhythm.
Duncan Watmore started against Portsmouth but is still being carefully edged back into first team football on a regular basis.