Sheffield Wednesday are putting no time frame on a comeback for long-term injury victim Kieran Lee.
The midfield man has been out of the first-team picture since last December with a hip problem and has yet to play under boss Jos Luhukay who was appointed in January.
Lee is making progress, but Luhukay, who takes his Championship team to League One Sunderland tomorrow in the first round of the Carabao Cup, says the 30-year-old's return can't be rushed.
"You must always be patient and you must look week to week," he said. "Sometimes the training intensity goes very well and in the right direction, sometimes it comes back.
"Sometimes Kieran Lee makes a progression and you think he can make a full comeback to team training, but then it goes and for another two weeks he cannot train with the team. It is difficult to say he will be back in two weeks, four weeks, six weeks."
Lee, who arrived at Hillsborough six years ago and had made 166 league appearances for the Owls, last played in a 3-1 defeat at Norwich City on December 9. He is working out under the guiance of Wednesday's fitness experts.
"You must wait to see how players are with the intensity of training," Luhukay added. "When they are okay 100 per cent, then you can bring them back to team training and from there they can make minutes in games and be an option for us in the Championship."
Striker Gary Hooper is in full training after a hip issue of his own, while fellow frontman Sam Winnall is expeced to return in late September after cruciate knee ligament surgery.
"Sam is under a very intensive regime with the fitness coaches," Luhukay said. "Gary is back training with the team but he has been away for a long time so every day he has to make progress on the physical side and in terms of his football (sharpness). It takes time."
Striker Lucas Joao and midfielder Morgan Fox have been ruled out by injury tomorrow but could be fit for Sunday's Championship test at Brentford.
Goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith will start against the League One outfit.
Midfield pair George Boyd and David Jones are also expected to feature as Luhukay makes changes.
Neither has started the opening two league matches of the season but Luhukay says they still have a future at Hillsborough.