Derby County head coach Steve McClaren has revealed that George Thorne is in line to make his long-awaited return from injury against Reading in the FA Cup this weekend.Thorne has not played for the first team this season after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage to his left knee during a pre-season friendly against Zenit St Petersburg.
The 22-year-old, who joined the Rams from West Brom last summer following a hugely successful loan spell, resumed full training last month and has made three appearances for the development side.
McClaren insists the midfielder will play some part in Saturday's fifth round tie at the iPro Stadium.
He told the club's official website: "I want George involved either from the start or on the bench, I don't know which. I definitely want him involved, though.
"He has at the level now; he has worked his way up to playing 90 minutes with three games of Under-21 football. It's important now that we reintroduce him at the right time."
However, Thorne's return has been tempered by the news that leading scorer Chris Martin is set for a stint on the sidelines.
The 19-goal striker sustained a hamstring injury during the top-of-the-table Sky Bet Championship clash with Bournemouth on Tuesday night.
McClaren said: "Hopefully Chris is only out for between two and three weeks - as long as he works hard and gets the right treatment.
"Losing him could have upset the squad but we are very fortunate to have Darren Bent. Chris is hard to replace, but Darren has stepped in for a couple of games and he has not looked out of place.
"He looks a natural in our side and you need that. We've had to change quite a bit over the season and we are hoping the squad will keep producing when we do lose players like Chris Martin."