Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge remains on course to return to action against Stoke City ahead of schedule after coming through an intense training session unscathed.
Sturridge damaged his ankle in training at the end of November and manager Brendan Rogers had initially expected the England international to be absent for up to two months.
Assistant manager Colin Pascoe confirmed earlier this month that Sturridge had resumed training with the view of returning to action for Liverpool in time for the trip to Stoke on 12 January.
Sturridge's fitness has been a constant problem this season with his injury problems having been further exacerbated while on international duty with England after Roy Hodgson admitted to playing the 24 year old against Germany despite the forward complaining of a thigh issue.
Rodgers has been able to rely on Luis Suarez up front of late but the manager will be relieved that he can have Sturridge back on board too as Liverpool plan to hold onto their top four spot in the coming months.
They face tough competition from the likes of Everton and Tottenham while Manchester United certainly can't be discounted from the race for Champions League qualification.
Rodgers has admitted that he will look into the possibility of adding to the squad as they suffer more injury woes this month and the manager has been honest about the fact that the side's lack of depth will be tough to overcome as they compete for a spot alongside Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.
But Sturridge's return will go a long way to helping this and having scored 11 times in his last 14 matches before the injury more goals are exactly what Liverpool need to continue asserting their dominance.