In a frustrating season for Wolverhampton Wanderers, one of the causes of that frustration has been the absence of Mark Davies from Mick McCarthy's midfield.
In the final half of last season, the Wolverhampton-born teenager made himself almost an automatic selection as he proved one of the few bright spots in the latter days of Glenn Hoddle's reign.
But, after four months out following a pre-season knee operation, the England Under-18 international is not far away from a first team return as he showed with a brief run-out for the reserves against Leicester City at the Foxes' training ground yesterday lunchtime.
Wolves won the behind-closed-doors friendly thanks to a second-half strike from centre-half Martin Riley. But the main source of pleasure for McCarthy was seeing Davies back out there. And the player who is tipped to be the next big name to roll off the Wolves Academy production line was understandably pleased to be back, even in adverse weather conditions.
"The wind made it really difficult," said Davies, after coming on for the final 20 minutes. "But I enjoyed it. It felt great to be back. My knee feels fine and hopefully now I can push on."
Davies's first team return is now not expected until after Christmas. But McCarthy must definitely make one change for Saturday's trip to play John Gregory's Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
Karl Henry's booking in the home defeat to Leicester on Saturday was his fifth of the campaign, meaning that he will have to serve a one-match suspension.
But McCarthy has already confirmed that will mean a return to action for on-loan Liverpool reserve-team player Darren Potter, who has been an unused sub for Wolves' last four games.
"With Karl suspended there's no question that it will be Darren who steps in," said McCarthy. "Karl has been terrific for us but Potts is a good player and it shouldn't be any problem slipping him in."