REDA Johnson is challenging for a comeback to the Sheffield Wednesday squad.
The left back has played his first game since being sidelined for two and a half months with a foot injury.
He came through a 64-minute outing in the Under-21s’ match at Derby.
Johnson’s progress is timely with Jeremy Helan’s loan stay due to end after Saturday’s clash with Charlton.
It is almost certain that Johnson will not be plunged into the Championship side this week after such a long lay-off but he could play some part over the holiday period of four games in 11 days, perhaps with a place on the bench as his first step.
The Owls face Bolton away on Boxing Day, Huddersfield away on December 29 and Burnley at home on New Year’s Day.
Development squad coach Lee Bullen, who was in charge of the youthful squad for the match at Derby, said: “Reda had had only had one full training session but played for around 65 minutes and came through well.
“Obviously his full sharpness was not going to be there yet but he won some fantastic headers and he is still such a powerhouse.
“I’m sure he will have felt a bit tired after being out for so long but he came through unscathed.
“It was all about giving him minutes.
“I think he could probably do with one or two more games, but the next Under-21 one isn’t until mid-January, and if you’re trying to fix up reserve games over Christmas there aren’t many clubs who want to play those at this time of year when there are so many first-team matches.”
Nicky Weaver is another on the comeback trail: after a wrist injury. He played his first game of the season at Derby. The team also included Nejc Pecnik and Paul Corry, against a strong Rams side who won 3-0.