Jonny Wilkinson could return to action for Newcastle Falcons against Harlequins on Sunday.
The England fly-half, plagued by a series of injuries since the World Cup, has not played for two months after damaging knee ligaments in Newcastle's European Cup tie against Perpignan.
Early estimates suggested Wilkinson might have been fit to play for England against Italy in the RBS 6 Nations at Twickenham.
Instead, he is set to take his place on the visitors' bench over the road at the Stoop after Newcastle's director of rugby Rob Andrew named him among 11 possible replacements.
With Newcastle enjoying only two games before they take on Stade Francais in the European Cup quarter-final, Wilkinson's inclusion in the list suggests he will be involved.
And just the whiff that Wilkinson could feature has helped ensure the match is a sell-out.
Should he come through without any negative reaction, Wilkinson might be in line for a first Test appearance since the World Cup final when England take on Scotland in their final RBS 6 Nations clash next weekend.
"Andy Robinson is the one who has to decide whether to reintroduce him to the set-up, be it as a bench player or whatever,'' said Andrew.
''That's somebody else's call, so all I can deal with is our game at Harlequins.''
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.