John Souttar has resumed full training with Hearts and has an outside chance of making his injury comeback this weekend.
The Scotland defender will not start Sunday's Scottish Cup tie against Livingston at Tynecastle Park but could be included manager Craig Levein's matchday squad.
He has not played since October due to a hip operation and is now close to resuming competitive action. Hearts are keen not to rush him back as he will be a key player throughout the second half of the season.
Souttar, 22, stayed in Edinburgh to complete the final phase of his rehabilitation last week while the first team headed for a winter training camp in Spain.
Striker Uche Ikpeazu is also in the latter stages of his recovery from foot surgery. He is expected to return to first-team action early next month.