Hartelpool United boss Craig Hignett has admitted Luke Williams is unlikely to make his Pools debut this season.
Williams, 25, signed for the club in the summer but hasn't kicked a ball since his arrival at the Super 6 Stadium, following a series of injury setbacks.
The forward, who made seven appearances for Hartlepool during a loan spell in 2014, looked set to make his second debut for Pools at the start of the campaign, before he was struck down with a virus.
Williams then required two operations, the first of which was unsuccessful, to rectify a knee issue, which has led to a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
Hignett revealed last month that Williams had returned to training and is progressing well following such a lengthy lay-off.
Yet the Pools boss thinks it's unlikely Williams will make an appearance before the season is out.
“I don’t think so,” said Hignett when asked if Williams could play a part in the final four games of the season.
“Luke has missed a massive chunk and he needs a lot of training and games and unfortunately we haven’t got time to arrange the games that he’ll need to get involved.
“We’ll just have to wait and see with Luke.”