Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew was delighted to see Jonas Gutierrez make his comeback this week after overcoming testicular cancer.
The Argentina midfielder was diagnosed in September, news that prompted an outpouring of public support.
Gutierrez returned to training earlier this month and played 87 minutes for the club's Under-21 side in a 4-1 defeat of West Ham on Monday.
And although Pardew revealed Gutierrez will not feature in Newcastle's upcoming Premier League games, the 31-year-old should be back in the frame to fight for a first-team spot next month.
"It's been a long, long road with the diagnosis he had, so we're overjoyed," he said.
"We're trying to give him some space to get back to his best. He's working his way towards that.
"I don't think he'll feature in this Christmas period, but certainly by the end of January and into February, I think he'll be looking to push on.
"He is fit, it's just getting used to the ball again, seeing a game scenario and getting back up to speed.
"Where he's at, he's actually physically fine. I don't think it'll take him too long - maybe even quicker than I'm suggesting."comments