Gary Rowett has revealed that Daniel Ballard will be available to face Blackburn Rovers on Saturday providing he comes through the necessary fitness tests unscathed.
The on loan Arsenal defender has been out since early December after suffering a knee injury that led to him having surgery on it.
The 22-year-old, who has made 21 appearances for the South London club, was supposed to be on the sidelines for three months but looks set to return ahead of schedule.
Rowett said: “Dan Ballard has played 45 minutes for the U23’s and then he played in a practice match today for 70 minutes.
“If he comes through that fine, which we think he did and there’s no after effects, then he’ll be available now.
“It was important we graduated his return and didn’t throw him in too early, but he’ll certainly be available [for Blackburn].”
Rowett told our paper in November that the Lions would be keen on a permanent deal for the centre-back if he was ever available.
“The way he is developing means he would be a fabulous player for any Championship side to have,” said Rowett.
“The reality is that, a bit like Jayson Molumby, when a player comes and does well then at the end of their loan they either go to another club that is perceived to be the next step or they go back to challenge in their parent club.
“What I would say is he is a great character who trains really well and is really popular. He has huge potential.”