The Everton outcast Alex Nyarko is on the brink of a remarkable first-team comeback and could face Charlton in tonight's Carling Cup third-round tie at Goodison Park.
The Ghanaian midfielder has been on two lengthy loan spells with Monaco and Paris St-Germain after his embarrassing on-field row with an Everton fan at Arsenal almost two years ago. Nyarko had said he would never play for Everton again after the disgruntled fan offered to swap shirts and take his place in the side.
Since then, the 30-year-old has been touted around Europe by Everton, who were desperate to off-load a player who had made only 24 appearances after being signed by previous manager, Walter Smith.
But with the next transfer window just two months away, Everton may well opt to parade Nyarko in the hope that they will finally be able to remove him from their wage bill.
And Nyarko's form in the reserves and training could well see him facing the South Londoners at Goodison Park.
The Everton coach, Alan Irvine, said: "He is very much in our thoughts just now, he has put in some terrific performances in the reserves and is very close to being selected.
"He has been talked about a lot in recent weeks and it was very close for him to have played at the weekend.
"We see him coming back to the club as just another player for us to utilise. We hope he does continue to perform as he has been recently and then he will get the opportunity and take it."
Tomasz Radzinski should be available to make his Everton comeback after returning to training, following a calf injury. But the manager, David Moyes, has a catalogue of other problems, despite the fact that Li Tie, Alan Stubbs, Duncan Ferguson and James McFadden all overcame injuries to be in the squad at Aston Villa on Saturday.
Kevin Kilbane is cup-tied, Steve Watson is out for six weeks after a double hernia operation, Nick Chadwick has a hamstring problem, while Leon Osman (ankle), Lee Carsley (knee), Alessandro Pistone (hernia operation) and Scot Gemmill (thigh) are all injured.
Matthias Svensson could feature in a Charlton game for the first time in six months. The Swedish forward has not played for the Addicks since April and has spent most of this season on loan in the First Division at Derby County. But an injury crisis among his strikers has prompted the Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, to recall Svensson.
Paolo Di Canio (hamstring), Shaun Bartlett (ankle), Carlton Cole (hip) and Kevin Lisbie (knee) are all likely to miss the game, leaving Jonatan Johansson and Jason Euell as the only fit senior forwards at the club.
The on-loan centre-back Chris Perry is available after the Tottenham caretaker manager, David Pleat, agreed to him playing in the competition for Charlton, thereby becoming cup-tied for Spurs.