Embattled Birmingham City defender Martin Taylor is unlikely to return to Premier League action this weekend. This is despite the fact that Manchester City's visit to St Andrew's tomorrow signals the start of a two-match ban for fellow centre half Liam Ridgewell.
Indeed, Birmingham manager Alex McLeish revealed he is even considering playing Franck Queudrue out of position at the heart of the City defence, or may even call on Raphael Schmitz, amidst concerns that Taylor is not mentally ready to step back into the spotlight.
The 28-year-old has not played since his controversial tackle broke the leg of Arsenal striker Eduardo on February 23, since when he has been the unwitting centre of a media and political maelstrom over the issue of dangerous play.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger went into meltdown in the immediate aftermath of his side's 2-2 draw and called on Taylor to be banned for life, although he soon sought to distance himself from those comments by claiming his opprobrium had been excessive.
Then a few days later Sepp Blatter, the outspoken president of FIFA, suggested there should be criminal investigations into such incidents while Taylor received death threats from Croatians angry that Eduardo will miss this summer's Euro 2008 finals. Croatian journalists even attempted to get into his car as he left Blues' training ground at Wast Hills.
In the meantime, the former Blackburn Rovers man has been trying to rebuild his reputation and, having completed the three-game suspension, has played one reserve team fixture.
But with Ridgewell picking up his tenth booking of the season in the defeat at Reading last weekend, there is now a vacancy at the heart of McLeish's defence for a game Birmingham must win if they are to steal a march on the bottom three.
Whether McLeish picks him, however, is a different matter. "He is ready, fitness-wise; he has only played one reserve-team game in four weeks, but he is ready to play, I would think," the Scot said.
"But I have got to consider if that would significantly improve the rest of the team. Most of our centre-halves are much of a muchness. There is good competition amongst them and I don't think there has been one that is clearly more outstanding than the other. They are all fighting for the spot. 'Tiny' came in and he deserved to keep his place, then Radhi Jaidi has done alright for us."
McLeish admitted, though, that if he has any doubts about Taylor's psychological preparation, he will leave him out even if it means slotting a man who has played left back for most of his career, into the centre-half berth.
"Will it enter my thinking? Of course it will; if I thought it was a problem, I would consider that," McLeish said. "If he was tentative at all, I would have to consider that. I don't really see any signs of if. He eased his way in with a reserve-team game and it was difficult to judge through that.
"He is in contention. Queudrue is in contention, Schmitz is in contention. We have choices there, we have to try and find the formula we feel is right for any given game.
"We have tried Franck at centre back in reserve games and he has been solid in there. He is very aggressive in the air and I know he has played there before for Middlesbrough. There is an option there."
All of which means that Taylor will probably need another appearance in the second-string before he stands a decent chance of making a top-flight comeback. That is likely to come against Aston Villa reserves on Monday night.
McLeish also announced he will have to do without Olivier Kapo for another week as the former France international recovers from a hamstring condition.
He will rejoin training next week and could appear against Steve Bruce's Wigan Athletic tomorrow week. Mauro Zarate is expected to continue up front tomorrow, with James McFadden ruled out for three weeks by surgery on a knee injury.