Leeds United boss Neil Warnock has revealed that Jamaica international Rudy Austin could be set to return to action sooner than expected.
Austin suffered a broken ankle early in November and was not due to return until the New Year.
But with Michael Tonge's loan from Stoke set to expire on December 22, Warnock is hopeful Austin can help cover his absence until the Potters man can be re-signed on January 1.
"He's coming along really well and there's an outside chance that he'll be back in time for Tonge going back to Stoke," Warnock told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"That would be a big bonus and one way or the other he should definitely be with us for the start of January. We aren't going to rush him but at the same time it'll be great to have him back. He's been a big player.
"It's a bonus to be thinking about him at all because I honestly thought he'd be looking at about six months out when the injury first happened.
"That's how serious we thought it was. But he's doing fine."
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The 23-year-old, who was once on trial with Newcastle, moved to Kingsmeadow from non-league side Bognor Regis Town last January.
But he made just three appearances for the Dons before suffering the injury against Crawley in April.
Prior has now resumed light training and hopes to be in contention for a return to the first team in the new year.
A club spokesman said: "Jason will step up his training over this month and hopefully will be pushing to return around late January."