George Thorne and Jason Shackell are making good progress as they edge closer towards making their Derby County comebacks.
Manager Gary Rowett has confirmed that the pair have got some training time under their belts this week.
Thorne has been building up his fitness during the last month after suffering a minor hamstring injury in the early stages of pre-season.
After missing all of last season after sustaining a broken leg in May 2016, Rowett has opted to gradually ease the midfielder back into action.
Shackell, meanwhile, underwent back surgery towards the end of last season.
Given the nature of the injury, Derby have had to be patient in slowly increasing the defender’s workload.
Speaking at this morning’s pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Rowett said: “George Thorne and Jason Shackell trained with the first-team for a portion of a session this week and got through it fine.
“Maybe next week, if things go well, we could look at getting them involved in an Under-23 game to get them some minutes as they are massively behind the other lads, in terms of minutes and the training load.
“It’s positive to see them out there and part of the group.”
Rowett hopes to have forward Matej Vydra available to face Wolves tomorrow.
He missed the abandoned Carabao Cup tie at Grimsby Town in midweek with a hamstring injury.
However, the Czech Republic international could return to the fold at Pride Park Stadium.
He said: “We are still hopeful with Matej. We think it has been more neural than muscular so we’ll have to see as that might dictate what we do in the game.
“He didn’t start the last friendly against Hoffenheim as he had missed the previous two-three weeks of training.
“He did, however, come off the bench at Sunderland and have a real impact. We just have to see if all goes well, could he get through the game if we selected him.
“If he’s an option, he’s an option. If everything goes well and we want to play him as a ‘number 10’ we could do.”
There are a few players nursing knocks in Rowett’s squad – but they aren’t causing him any concerns.
He said: “Chris Baird rolled his ankle at Grimsby early on but he has trained and will be fine; he has the mentality to strap it up and get on with it.
“Tom Huddlestone and Bradley Johnson had knocks at Sunderland and they are fine. It’s that early stage of the season and it loads your body in a different way to the pre-season matches.”
One player who is sidelined is youngster Jamie Hanson, who has a calf problem.
Rowett said: “Jamie felt a tweak in his calf in the warm-down at Grimsby so he won’t be available.”