Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said on Wednesday that controversial forward Carlos Tevez could make his first-team return in next week's Premier League match against Chelsea.
The Argentina striker has not played senior football for City since Mancini accused him of refusing to warm-up during a Champions League loss away to Bayern Munich in September.
The 28-year-old then spent more than three months in Argentina without City's permission before returning to north-west England after failing to secure a move during the January transfer window.
Tevez though has since apologised to Mancini and has recently played two matches for the reserves.
City don't have a league match until Chelsea visit Eastlands a week on Wednesday and Mancini, asked if Tevez could be available for that game, said: "We will see in the next week. It depends on Carlo.
"If Carlo is okay then probably, but it depends on a lot of things," the Italian added.
City's loss away to Swansea last weekend saw the longstanding leaders surrender top spot in the Premier League to local rivals Manchester United.
And they could be as many as four points behind reigning champions United by the time they kick-off against Chelsea.
Mancini was speaking at a news conference on Wednesday ahead of the Europa League last 16 sceond leg tie at home to Sporting Lisbon, where City will look to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
Although Tevez trained with the senior squad on Wednesday, he is not eligible to play in Thursday's match as he has not been registered for European competition.