Lions tourist Adam Jones has given the Ospreys and Wales a huge boost with the news that he could be ready to return to action before the end of the year.
The international prop starred for Ian McGeechan's tourists on their summer trip to South Africa but hasn't featured so far this season.
Jones, who was one of seven Ospreys selected for the 2009 Lions, had surgery on his shoulder following the second-Test defeat in Pretoria and is still undergoing rehabilitation.
The former Neath front rower would have been an automatic choice to add to his 56 Welsh caps against New Zealand, Samoa, Argentina and Australia this month but he is instead being forced to focus on returning to the international scene in time for the 2010 Six Nations.
The 28-year-old has missed each and every one of his region's seven Magners League and two Heineken Cup fixtures so far but could now return for the mouth-watering local derby with the Scarlets on Boxing Day.
Ospreys head coach Sean Holley has claimed that the tight-head could be back playing again as early as December 19 when Viadana visit the Liberty Stadium in the Heineken Cup, although it is more likely that he will be involved against their Welsh rivals a week later.
"It isn't a precise science but there is an outside chance that Adam will be involved in the home game against Viadana," said Holley.
"More likely is the derby against the Scarlets.
"Whichever match it is, our physio Chris Towers is pleased with his progress. Adam is recovering well."
A return against the Scarlets would mean Jones will have to sit out just one more Magners League clash and two Heineken Cup matches before lacing up his boots once more.