LEICESTER City have promised that Ireland defender Sean St Ledger will not be rushed back into action.
The 28-year-old has been sidelined since October due to a serious hamstring injury, but he did make some progress this week as he played part of the game in a reserve match against Leeds United on Monday.
Coming in the same week as Richard Dunne suffered a major setback in his attempts to recover from his own injury problems, a long-standing groin complaint, St Ledger's re-appearance was seen as a major boost for Giovanni Trapattoni, who was facing the prospect of travelling to Sweden for that vital World Cup tie in March without Dunne and St Ledger, while full backs Marc Wilson and Seamus Coleman were also injury concerns.
But while Leicester were glad to see St Ledger back on the field of play, manager Nigel Pearson won't be making any rash decisions on his fitness.
"Sean played half a game on Monday but he has a long way to go," said Pearson.
"He is training and has had some pitch-time, but he has had a long time out now. We have to get the balance right.
"I don't want people to start putting huge expectation on him being back in the next week or so, because that is not going to happen.
"But it was good to get him in and around the players and he will feel a lot better in himself for getting some pitch-time.
"That is always important in a player's rehabilitation," he added.
There are now a number of injury worries for Trapattoni ahead of next Wednesday's friendly against Poland in Dublin and also in view of the March 22nd game in Sweden.
Dunne was formally withdrawn from the squad for the Poland game yesterday along with Donegal man Coleman, while St Ledger and Wilson were not even named in the squad, but now Greg Cunningham is also a concern.
The Galway lad, who was last capped at senior level against Norway in 2010, had been named in the panel for the clash with Poland and Cunningham was in line to win his fourth cap, but he picked up a knock in Bristol City's win over Watford and is a doubt.
"Greg has a knock on his ankle and prudence dictated we take him off a few minutes before the end rather than aggravating it.
"We will know more about his condition after a day or two," said City manager Sean O'Driscoll.