Alan Pardew admits struggling West Bromwich Albion have been given an injury "lift" ahead of Sunday's (17 December) Premier League visit of Manchester United, while the club also appear primed to complete the permanent signing of loanee and reported Liverpool target Ahmed Hegazi.
The resilient but goal-shy Baggies welcome Jose Mourinho's side to The Hawthorns this weekend after containing Liverpool's vaunted 'fab four' to claim a spirited 0-0 draw at Anfield on Wednesday. While such a result saw them escape the relegation zone, it also set a new club record of 16 successive matches without a victory across all competitions.
West Brom, who claimed just a point from Pardew's first two matches in charge against relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Swansea City after sacking Tony Pulis, also face Stoke City, Everton and Arsenal before the New Year and should see their numbers swelled during the hectic festive schedule.
Influential all-time top-flight appearance leader Gareth Barry is available to face United after missing the last two matches with a thigh strain that forced him to limp off after 30 minutes against Palace, while winger Matt Phillips could shake off a hamstring problem in time to feature for the first time since 28 November at Stoke.
Chris Brunt has been named on the bench in consecutive matches after spending three weeks out with a similar issue.
Nacer Chadli (hip) and Craig Dawson (knee/thigh) are also coming along nicely, yet the clash with United will likely come too soon for that duo. James Morrison, meanwhile, is still recuperating after undergoing a minor procedure on his achilles tendon in Portugal during the November international break.
"We've had a bit of a lift," Pardew said at his pre-match press conference. "Brunty's getting up to speed, Nacer Chadli's training, Craig Dawson's running around and getting close. We're getting our numbers back. Matt Phillips is close and hasn't been ruled out for the game against Stoke. But we've decided to be cautious.
"Gareth Barry will be in contention to play. Nacer probably needs a bit more training to be involved for this one, but he's back which is a good thing."
Pardew also confirmed that West Brom were "pretty much down the road" on exercising their £4.5m ($5.9m) option to sign Al Ahly's Hegazy on a full-time basis in January.
Liverpool were also said to have enquired about the Egyptian defender, although director of football Sayed Abdel-Hafiz was quick to point out last week that Jurgen Klopp and co did not "have the right to bid higher" than their domestic rivals.
"I can't confirm anything but if we can then we'll do that," Pardew said, per the Birmingham Mail. "He's been brilliant for me. I've only been here for three games but he's been terriffic."
Pardew revealed that he had already held discussions with technical director Nick Hammond over other transfer targets with a new striker likely the priority, but insisted that no approaches were to be made just yet with much still riding on "results, injuries and performances" between now and the New Year.
He also reiterated his hope that captain Jonny Evans - who was the subject of multiple bids during the summer window - would stay amid interest from the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton.