Jack Ross has refused to put a time frame on Duncan Watmore's return - but insists the striker is edging ever closer to full fitness.
Watmore, 24, has suffered two serious knee injuries since making his Sunderland debut in 2014, and hasn't featured for the first team for nearly a year.
However, according to Ross, the striker has remained positive while dealing with a series of setbacks.
"Watmore has had a week of training, he has done everything but it is too soon for him at the moment," said Ross when asked who was available for Saturday's trip to Shrewsbury.
When asked if Watmore was close to featuring for the under-23 side, Ross added: "He is getting ever closer.
"One thing when I first came in here, he was one of the first players I met in the summer, I get on well with him we had good chats and we continue to do that.
"I stressed there is a duty of care from me and the club, he has had two injuries.
"We were never putting a time frame on it and that has helped him, I think."
With Josh Maja, Jerome Sinclair and Chris Maguire all competing for places up front, Ross is in no hurry to rush Watmore back.
The Sunderland boss is also wary about exposing Watmore to competitive football too soon, but has been amazed by the player's positive attitude.
"He is so positive in terms of where he is at at the moment. He is a very positive individual anyway," added Ross.
"He has progressed really well and his knee is in a good place. I have never put time frames on it but it will be soon.
"Once he gets past that milestone he will be ever closer to being involved with us.
"It will be very much sooner rather than later, from what I have seen from him this week he will be in a good place.
"He has trained really well and feels good. This has been another week to tick off, when that game comes around then it will be another thing to tick off on his way to a full recovery."