Reading will get their play-off campaign underway in as little as eight days and with one game to come before that, time seems to be running out for club Captain Paul McShane and midfielder Joey van den Berg to prove their fitness ahead of the biggest games of the season.
Yet Reading Assistant Manager Andries Ulderink has given fans hope that the pair could in fact feature up at Burton. Get Reading's Jonathan Low was at Hogwood for this week's media briefing and Jaap Stam's number two has confirmed both are in contention to play in Sunday's game. The bad news is that neither return is a guarantee, which would certainly damage their chances of taking part in the play-offs.
McShane's been dealing with a calf problem that's kept him out since the March 11 defeat up at Preston. As for Dutchman van den Berg, he's also closing in on two months out, having last played in the 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday on March 17th.
If Reading beat Burton they'll be heading to Craven Cottage, the scene of one of the worst displays of the season in a 5-0 mauling, hardly ideal conditions to bring back someone who's not played competitive football in two months. As we discussed on this week's TTE Podcast, in an emergency you'd say they could get through on experience but would Stam take such a big gamble in some of the biggest games in not just his, but the club's history?
One man who almost certainly won't feature up at Burton is winger Garath McCleary. The Jamaican limped out just before half-time with Wigan due to a recurrence of a long-standing injury and Ulderink admitted he'll likely have to skip the final game of the regular season. As for his play-off status, the Reading Assistant Boss said he could yet feature, something that will be a real boost to the squad.
Also on the injury front, Stephen Quinn continues to train after dealing with issues in both knees, though again I'm not sure he'll be rushed back before the season's out.
Finally, Ulderink said that they may make changes for Sunday's clash but has ruled out making Huddersfield style changes, saying it won't be '6 or 7'.
So it's cautiously good news for Joey and Paul, yet both have seemingly been on the 'verge' of returns for a while, so it's best not to get carried away.
You can catch up with more from that news conference over at Get Reading.