Mikel Arteta could be back to aid Everton's increasingly desperate bid to cling onto a UEFA Cup qualification place.
The Basque midfielder has been struggling with groin and stomach problems and has been back home in Spain receiving intensive treatment.
And now the signs are he could be in contention for a return in the must-win home clash with Aston Villa on Sunday - the Birmingham side able to leapfrog Everton into fifth spot if they win at Goodison Park.
The good news of Arteta comes as there seems to be a breakthrough in the treatment of attacking midfielder Tim Cahill, who is now back home in Australia awaiting a crucial operation on his persistent broken metatarsal problem.
Cahill will clearly not be back in action until next season, but boss David Moyes, who should also have Leon Osman available against Villa after his recovery from a hip injury, is boosted by the prospect of Arteta's return.
He said: 'Mikel is still in Spain. We have been speaking with him regularly, and he will be back on Friday and hopefully will be available.'