Steve Watson has declared himself fit to play for West Bromwich Albion away to Ipswich Town on Saturday.
The defender came through a reserve-team fixture against Birmingham City on Monday after overcoming a thigh injury. He is now fighting to replace Paul McShane for a place in the starting line-up this season.
On the debit side, goalkeeper Russell Hoult faces a race against time to be fit for the Portman Road trip after being injured in the same reserve-team match. Hoult was substituted after 15 minutes against Birmingham after suffering a dead leg as Albion lost 2-0.
But Watson's return will give caretaker-manager Nigel Pearson a boost and Watson is anxious to be part of the squad after watching from the sidelines during what has been a turbulent period for the club.
"It [the reserve-team match] went well from a personal point of view," Watson said. "We conceded a couple of goals early on, but I just wanted to get 90 minutes under my belt.
"The thigh felt fine and hopefully I'll be able to hit the ground running now, because we're going to need as many people fit as possible over the next few weeks because of all the matches we've got coming up."
As if to emphasise his versatility, the former Newcastle United, Everton and Aston Villa defender started the game at right-back but switched to centre-back at half-time.
McShane is suspended this weekend, which virtually guarantees that Watson will return, although Curtis Davies could also be fit after being out with a broken foot.
"In the first half [of the reserve-team match] I played right-back and in the second in the centre," Watson said. "So, with Paul McShane suspended for the weekend, I've got half a chance of playing there on Saturday, providing Curtis isn't ready.
"It's nice to be prepared like that and I'm just glad to get 90 minutes under my belt."
John Hartson (ankle) also played the entire game against Birmingham. Nathan Ellington (thigh) was taken off after 70 minutes as a precaution. Both strikers are hoping to be fit to face Ipswich...SUPL: