West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray has revealed that his pack of injured players are desperate to return to first team action now that their rehabilitation is complete.
Mowbray has had a real headache in recent weeks with injuries to half a dozen key players including hot-shot strikers Kevin Phillips and Ishmael Miller, midfielder James Morrison and defender Martin Albrechtsen.
All were back training this week and one or two have surprised Mowbray by throwing themselves back into contention so soon.
Mowbray said: "A few of the players have been after me to see if they can be involved this weekend. Kevin, Ish, Morrison and Martin as well as Neil Clement are all back in training and have done exceptionally well. They are looking as bright as buttons.
"Basically they are all at the ready. I think we are finally getting back to where we were at the start of the season."
Mowbray knows he will need his best players back as they prepare for the busiest spell of the season.
He said: "Now we have the squad back and can start to pick the players we think are right for each game. I think in some of the tight games we have missed the individuality possibly of Miller or Phillips.
"Players like them in tight games are the ones who can do something a little bit special to win games. The goals we have been scoring have been very good team goals. There have been some fantastic balls into the box for Gera or Bednar to head into the net but sometimes you need somebody to do something special.
"You need someone who can stick it through someone's legs or bend it in the top corner.
Hopefully pretty soon that will be back on display. "
Mowbray was delighted with those players who stepped into the breach during the club's recent run of injuries and suspensions and hinted that one or two may have done enough to keep their place while he chooses when and where to reintroduce his first-choice troops.
He said: "We have got to utilise the impact the returning players can make. There are a lot of games coming up now in a short period of time - the games come think and fast now into the New year and beyond.
"If we hold one or two players back to get the impact right then that will be the case. I hope the team continues to win and we can wait for the right moment to unleash them."
Mowbray is an admirer of Alan Pardew's Charlton Athletic side. He said: "Charlton were in the Premier League and although they have lost Darren Bent, they have still got a lot of Premier League players.
"When I see them play they are not a negative team. They don't just try to stop the opposition, they play and they are a team that have adopted a formation similar to what we have. They scored three goals against Ipswich with Ambrose playing just behind the front man just as we might have played Teixeira just behind Bednar.
"These players play they opposition, they spread the pitch out and they look like a decent football team."
Mowbray said he was not aware of any interest from Sheffield Wednesday in striker John Hartson who returned to Albion recently after a spell on loan at Norwich.
He said: "I haven't had any contact and I know Brian (Laws) well and he hasn't called me which I would have thought he would.
"I have said before we are not going to stand in John's way if he can get his career going, whether it be Sheffield Wednesday or Chester or wherever in January."