John Hardie is back in training with Edinburgh Rugby following his three-month suspension and will be available to play from January 19.
That means that if he impresses head coach Richard Cockerill with his work rate and application, then he could come into contention for the European Rugby Challenge Cup match with Stade Francais on January 20.
And, if required, the 29-year-old back-row would then be available for Six Nations selection by Scotland in February and March.
The New Zealand-born player, who has 16 Scotland caps, was handed the recent suspension by Scottish Rugby for “gross misconduct” over alleged cocaine use.
Edinburgh assistant coach Duncan Hodge said yesterday: “John’s been back the last two days.
“There was no awkwardness on his return. I can only speak personally, but it’s great to see him back training.
He’s not been with us for the last month, so it’s good to have him back, albeit he can’t be selected until the 19th.
“From his point of view it’s great to be back training and able to get him fit.
“It’s just been straight back into training for him and he certainly looks in good shape.”
Meanwhile, Mark Bennett finally looks set to make his long-awaited Edinburgh debut this Friday night in the Guinness PRO14 against the Southern Kings at Myreside.
Bennett, 24, joined Edinburgh from Glasgow Warriors in the summer and at that stage was already a few months into a rehab programme following ACL reconstruction.
The centre came close to appearing in the black and red for the first time during late December in the 1872 Cup double header, but he may do so now.
“He’s been fit and available to play for the last ten days, so definitely [he is available for selection],” Hodge stated.
“Mark’s a quality player so hopefully he’ll be back in the mix.”
Hodge and the players know how important the next three matches are before the Six Nations to keep the positive season going.
After the Kings it is a European double header with Stade Francais and Hodge added: “We are progressing and we’ve done a lot of good things.
“Saturday was a bit of a blip against Glasgow. This week it’s probably more of a mental challenge – we’ve just got to get back on the horse.
“It’s not easy conditions at the moment and potentially on Friday night it’s going to be the same, but we’ve just got to go out and win – that’s our main objective just now.”