St Johnstone striker Nicky Clark has resumed light training.
Manager Craig Levein isn’t at the point when he can set a target match for the Perth forward’s return to action from a calf injury.
But the prospect of that comeback being a good deal earlier than the original six to eight week lay-off prognosis is growing.
“Nicky was out on the grass today, which is a good step forward,” Levein reported.
“He’s not sprinting yet but it’s a real positive.
“There’s no timescale on his return yet.
“But the progress so far is encouraging.”
Andy Considine is almost certain to miss Saints’ next match against Celtic, after being forced off at half-time during the recent loss to Hearts.
“Andy obviously got a sore one on Saturday,” said Levein.
“We’re still not sure how long he’ll be out for.
“It wasn’t one of those where he was writhing about on the ground in agony and it’s ballooned up straight away.
“The fact that he was able to play for a while longer suggests it isn’t something really serious.
“But it’s still a case of wait and see.
“I don’t think there will be a chance for him on Sunday. You never know but I doubt it.”
Levein certainly wouldn’t have broken up his central defensive trio out of choice.
“Andy, Gowser (Ryan McGowan) and big Liam (Gordon) have been very steady for us over the last few games,” he said. “The Kilmarnock one under Alex and then the last three with me.
“We haven’t lost that many goals and have generally been pretty solid.
“That’s given us a platform.
“Midfield is the same. It’s been very strong.
“Dan (Phillips) and Matty (Smith) have been excellent, Max (Kucheriavyi) did really well at the weekend and Graham (Carey) and Sven (Sprangler) have done well too.
“Those two areas have given us a solid look.
“There’s not an awful lot wrong.
“I’d like to have created more chances but that was always going to be tough at Tynecastle.
“There’s an element of being without Nicky involved in that for sure.
“If he’s fit, he’s the one with the recognised track record in the Premiership of being a regular goalscorer.
Meanwhile, Sam McClelland has taken a significant step closer to returning from an ankle injury sustained on Northern Ireland under-21 duty in October.
“Sam is another one who was out on the grass for the first time today,” said Levein. “That’s progress for him.”
Cammy MacPherson is likely to be missing for a “few weeks” after picking up a thigh injury in training last week.