Nigel Clough is optimistic that Diego De Girolamo will be in first-team contention early in 2014.
Upon revealing that the 18-year-old recommenced full training earlier this week, Clough insists the striker won't be rushed back ahead of the festive period after over eight months out with a serious knee injury that mirrored the one sustained by Shaun Miller.
Clough commented: "Diego (De Girolamo) started training at the beginning of the week and came through his first session on Tuesday.
"He goes to college on a Wednesday, so physically that gave him a rest and he was back involved on Thursday morning with the rest of the lads.
"We are still in the early stages, but the signs are encouraging, it will be a big boost for him personally to be back involved with the group.
"He needs a few weeks training before we think about getting him involved in game situations after Christmas, but hopefully he will hit the ground running."
Meanwhile, Clough did confirm a former defender was back at Shirecliffe as he bids to overcome his own knee troubles.
The Gaffer added: "Lecsinel (Jean-Francois) is back at the club doing his rehabilitation. The arrangement was something that was agreed a few months ago.
"He has been progressing well in France and once he got to a certain level it was always the intention to let him come here.
"We have a friendly at Mansfield Town next week, so there is a possibility he could feature in that, but there is no deal on the table."