Nigel Clough believes Joe Mason is unlikely to feature for Burton Albion again before his initial loan ends on January 2.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers striker has been dogged by injury and illness since joining the Brewers in August, and he was recently released from hospital after suffering with an acutely inflamed appendix to continue his recovery with his parent club at their Compton Park training ground.
A combination of that issue and a back problem have meant he has featured only twice for Albion since September 26.
And while Clough is preparing for Saturday's trip to Reading with a virtually fully-fit squad at his disposal, the Burton boss is not expecting to have Mason available again before his current loan spell comes to its conclusion the day after the clash with Sheffield Wednesday on January 1.
"Everybody seemed to get through Saturday okay," said Clough.
"It's just Joe Mason who will still be missing, and obviously Liam Boyce, who is stepping up his training every week.
"Mason, with the problem he has had with his appendix, that will probably rule him out until January, when the loan is up anyway.
"So we'll review that at the beginning of January.
"But everybody else isn't too bad and should be in contention.
"There are a couple of little niggles after the weekend, but nothing that should keep anybody out."
Mason's attacking quality was there for all to see when he bagged a well-taken equaliser with his first touch as an Albion player against Wednesday back in August.
But he has had few further opportunities to show that ability since.
Clough says discussions with the player will happen in the coming weeks over whether they will look to extend the loan deal in January.
"Joe has been dogged by bad luck and illness and injuries," he added.
"We are going to sit down.
"If it's a loan slot that we can use elsewhere, then we'll certainly look at doing that.
"But we are hopefully going to see Joe in the next week or so when he is recovering and have a chat with him."