WILL Hughes could rejoin Derby County’s promotion run-in this weekend.
The 18-year-old midfielder is edging closer to fitness following a hip flexor injury.
He trained yesterday and his progress will be monitored this week ahead of Saturday’s Championship clash at Middlesbrough.
Hughes has missed two games and started only one of the last five after making 35 starts.
First-team coach Paul Simpson said: “It is a little bit early at the moment to say whether or not he will be fit.
“He has done some work with the medical department, he has trained for the first time with the rest of the group and he will train for the rest of the week and then the manager will decide.
“At the moment we are really pleased with the group but we want every best player we can available and Will definitely comes into that bracket.
“If Will is fit, I am sure he will come into the group for the game at Middlesbrough.”
Jamie Ward and Simon Dawkins are set to miss out again.
A groin problem has sidelined Dawkins for three matches and Ward has sat out two with a hamstring injury.
“Simon Dawkins may be two or three weeks,” said Simpson.
“Jamie Ward is back out on the field doing some running and we are hopeful that he is going to be available over the next few weeks.
“Middlesbrough is probably too early, maybe the game after (Blackpool away) or the following weekend (Huddersfield at home) he may be able to be involved.”
Simpson says knocks and strain are expected at this stage of the season and all clubs suffer them.
Hughes, who turns 19 next week, had a groin problem at this stage last season.
“Will is still developing and maturing as a footballer, so we have to accept that there are going to be little things with him, but it is not a major concern,” said Simpson.
“He has played a massive part in our season so far, but he has just got to be careful through this little period.
“We are going to try and wrap everybody up in cotton wool, Will more so, but I am sure once he gets over this and gets his opportunity, he will go and grab it again.”