Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez could be named on the bench for Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.
The 28-year-old has not played for six months, but has now been back in training for five weeks following the closure of his dispute with the club.
Manager Roberto Mancini thinks it could be next month before the Argentinian, top scorer in the past two seasons, is fit enough to start again, but he is now ready for action.
Mancini said: "He is getting better but I don't think Carlo can have more than 25-30 minutes. A player like Carlo needs to play but for 90 minutes but, at this moment, it is impossible.
"If he can play 30 minutes, after that 45 in three or four games, then he could have 90 minutes, easily."
Although Tevez could provide an extra cutting edge up front, City still have problems at the opposite end of the field with first-choice central defenders Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott injured.
With Lescott already ruled out with his groin injury and Kompany struggling to overcome his calf strain in time, Stefan Savic and Kolo Toure could continue at the back.
They might have to deal with a fired-up Fernando Torres, who finally ended a long barren run with a double in Chelsea's FA Cup win over Leicester on Sunday.
Mancini said: "I am happy for Torres, I like him as a guy and a player. He scored again because he deserved this. I don't know what will happen but I am happy for him.
"But we know we play not against Fernando, but against Chelsea. Chelsea are a top team."
City, who had led the Barclays Premier League since October, now trail Manchester United by four points at the top after being overhauled by their rivals this month.
Yet with a game in hand against Chelsea and a derby clash with United on April 30, Mancini has not lost any confidence.
The Italian said: "We will win the title, we will win. We will do everything to win the title. We need to think positive, always. Until now we have had a fantastic Premier League, we need to continue like this.
"It is better to stay on the top - always - but I said a month ago it could be that we will go into the second position. This can happen. We had difficult fixtures, different from United, but it has not changed. We have everything in our hands.
"There is one game difference - potentially we are one point behind. Maybe if we win the next two games we go two points up. We need to go our way, we can't think about United."
Roberto Di Matteo has declared Chelsea's squad is strong enough to win at City - even without captain John Terry.
Andre Villas-Boas' final pre-match press conference before being sacked as Blues boss saw the Portuguese brand City's playing pool "a lot better" than his own.
But caretaker manager Di Matteo has no doubt Chelsea can go toe-to-toe with Roberto Mancini's men.
They will have to do so without captain Terry, who Di Matteo revealed would miss the game after over-exerting himself in the two matches he has played since his remarkable recovery from knee surgery.
Asked if he believed Chelsea were capable of taking City on, Di Matteo said: "Yes, I do."
He added: "I think we have a very good team and squad, a very strong one, and we've shown it over the years. The table shows that they (City) have won more games this season than we have. But, I think we are very competitive."
Di Matteo did not shy away from statistics that point to a City win, the first of which shows Chelsea are looking to end a run of four away league games without a win.
"We will try, yes, for sure," he said, before being reminded City had won all 14 of their home league matches.
"I know that one as well. I know the facts! They're obviously very strong at home, everybody knows that. But every run comes to an end."