Josh Maja is closing in on a return to the first team picture at Sunderland.
The 18-year-old was a star performer in pre-season before suffering a knee injury but he completed 89 minutes for the U23s against Liverpool and could return to the first team squad for Fulham.
“Josh is there or thereabouts and it is a credit to all those involved in his rehab,” said U23 boss Elliott Dickman.
“The medical team have managed him well and moving forward the manager and first team staff will decide on where he is and what he is doing.
“If he is with us then great, if he is with the first team then fantastic for the academy.”
Meanwhile, as revealed by the Echo, Scottish side Falkirk are set to raid Sunderland for reinforcements - with duo Andrew Nelson and Tommy Robson on their radar.
Falkirk, second-bottom of the Scottish Championship, are desperate to strengthen their squad
Neither were involved for Sunderland U23s against Liverpool, with Nelson missing with an ankle injury.
Robson has been out of favour since he returned from a loan spell at Irish side Limerick last season and there are suggestions he may join Falkirk on a free transfer next month, while Nelson could join on loan.
When asked about the pair’s future, Dickman said: “Andrew had an ankle issue, that’s why he wasn’t in the squad against Liverpool.
“Tommy was not in the squad with a view to probably looking to move on come January.
“Nothing is confirmed as far as I am aware.”
Speaking generally about Sunderland’s youngsters going out on loan, Dickman added: “Heading out on loan is different to the U23s, [U23 football] has its purpose for players, but there are certain players who need to put themselves against men to see how they deal with it.
“It is fantastic for the lads to get that opportunity wherever it may be.”