Cauley Woodrow is set to be named in Barnsley’s squad for the first time for Saturday’s game against Southend at Oakwell.
The striker has had a frustrating start to life with the Reds since joining from Fulham in the summer transfer window.
Woodrow sustained a muscle problem in one of his first training sessions at the club and has occupied the sidelines ever since.
But having worked his way back to the brink of full fitness, including training with the first team on a handful of occasions, the 23-year-old is now closing in on his debut.
It is unlikely Woodrow will be thrown in from the start against Chris Powell’s side, but Tykes assistant head coach Andreas Winkler has confirmed he is in Daniel Stendel’s thinking.
“He is in contention to play, but you can see in the training that he is not 100 per cent,” the German said.
“That is normal after such a long time. A muscle injury is totally different to a sprain. We can bring him on the bench if he’s in his mind or head 100 per cent.
“He is close. He is really fit, but you could see in the sprints and duels he is 80-90 per cent, maybe 95. That is normal. Right now, we let him train and not think about the injury.”
Barnsley’s emerging squad had seen their early-season progress under Stendel checked with back-to-back away defeats.
But they got their promotion bid back on track last week when beating Bristol Rovers 1-0 courtesy of Alex Mowatt’s early strike.
Winkler acknowledges the Reds are likely to be inconsistent given their youth, but believes they will learn from setbacks.
“The younger you are the less experience you have,” he said.
“You use these matches, these situations, to learn from it. We don’t have one kind of leader, we have many leaders, but we enjoy working this way.”
Barnsley are heading into a congested period in the fixture list, with Southend their first game of five in all competitions in just 14 days.
The Shrimpers are sitting in mid-table, only four points off the play-offs, but have suffered a couple of major injury blows recently.
“They have their style of football, they play very directly, but also have good ball possession,” Winkler added.
“Their game is all about winning or losing, they have just two draws. I think they are better than their results, much better, and they are a strong side.
“In some ways, they remind me of our style so it will be a tough match on Saturday.”