Sunderland defender Wes Brown is nearing a return to first team training after a torrid spell out with injury.
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Brown, 33, joined Sunderland in 2011 from Manchester United on a four-year-deal, but has seen his time on Wearside plagued by setbacks.
The defender appeared to have overcome his fitness issues near the end of last season, only to suffer a breakdown during the club's pre-season tour of South Korea for the Peace Cup.
Regardless, manager Martin O'Neill remains positive over the defender's situation, despite previous false dawns of late.
"Wes is making good progress, although the number of times I've said that is unbelievable," he told the Sunderland Echo.
"He's not that far away again from getting back into training. He's responding well at this minute, quite well.
"We were worried about it, but he is getting better by the day."
Having only played seven times under Martin O'Neill, Brown was sent to London in October to be fitted with a knee brace - which has since been removed.
Meanwhile, fellow defender John O'Shea looks unlikely to be available for the visit of Chelsea to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
O'Shea, who joined the club along with Wes Brown, sustained a calf injury against Queens Park Rangers that forced him out of last Sunday's trip to Norwich City.
The Black Cats had hoped he would be fit to return against Rafa Benitez's men - with the club currently relying on Titus Bramble as the only backup for Matt Kilgallon and Carlos Cuellar.