Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward last night received a double boost surrounding two of his potential Test-match stars against the All Blacks - Newcastle pair Jonny Wilkinson and Colin Charvis.
While England captain Wilkinson will remain on the sidelines again this weekend, his latest comeback from injury appears imminent.
Walsall-born Wales international Charvis, meanwhile, returns to the starting grid after three months out when he lines up for Newcastle against Premiership opponents Worcester at Kingston Park on Sunday.
England World Cup centre Will Greenwood features in Harlequins colours tomorrow following a four-month absence recovering from shoulder surgery.
Newcastle coach Rob Andrew says Wilkinson is desperately close to regaining full fitness.
Wilkinson has not played since Newcastle's Premiership defeat against Quins almost four weeks ago when he suffered his second knee injury of the season.
The latest fitness setback, which followed an earlier knee problem and a biceps injury, cast doubts over him being fit for the Lions tour to New Zealand this summer.
Although Wilkinson will not be involved against Worcester - 24 hours before Woodward announces his squad - a return against Northampton next Friday must be distinctly possible.
Andrew said: "Jonny is about as close as you can get to being fit to play, but he just isn't quite there yet. He has done most of the training this week but we just have to do things right and make sure he's absolutely 100 per cent when he does come back."
If Newcastle reach the Premiership wildcard playoffs there are potentially five matches Wilkinson could be involved in before the Lions depart on May 25.
Newcastle finish the regular league season with fixtures against Northampton and London Irish (April 30), before the wildcard semifinals on May 7 and the Twickenham final seven days later.
The Lions also have a May 23 pre-tour encounter against Argentina in Cardiff, which would be an obvious opportunity for Wilkinson to be given an outing.
In the meantime, there is a clearer picture surrounding Charvis, who missed the entire Six Nations as Wales secured their first grand slam triumph since 1978.
Charvis, Wales' outstanding player in their autumn Test matches, last played for the Falcons against Newport Gwent Dragons on January 16. But he is in Sunday's starting line-up, taking over from Mike McCarthy at blindside flanker.
Charvis said: "Watching the matches as a spectator wasn't easy. But I am determined to come back strong and contribute as much as I can in what is left of the season to help us qualify for the Heineken Cup again. It has been enormously frustrating to have been out of the side and away from the training environment when I was just starting to get more involved."
England prop Julian White will not play for Leicester against Sale tomorrow due to a 'stinger' injury, which affects the neck and arm area. He missed the Heineken Cup quarter-final demolition of Leinster in Dublin last Sunday.
Also out is White's fellow World Cup winner, Gloucestershire forward Phil Vickery (broken arm). Both are strong Lions Test team contenders.
Vickery's fracture in his forearm had not sufficiently repaired itself, meaning another possible two or three weeks' recovery time.