Fulham striker Moussa Dembele hopes to hand Fulham a much-needed boost by returning to training this week.
The Belgium striker, who has scored three times since his £5million transfer from AZ Alkmaar this summer, has been out of action since aggravating an ankle injury while on international duty last month.
Without him and fellow injury victim Bobby Zamora, the Cottagers have struggled in front of goal and now find themselves just outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
Dembele had pencilled in last weekend’s postponed match at Liverpool for his comeback but that plan was scrapped after it was decided that the striker needed a further week of rehabilitation.
The 23-year-old now hopes to return to training this week with the aim of playing some part in a crucial festive programme that sees Fulham take on West Ham, Stoke and Tottenham within the space of six days.
“I hope to train this week and see how I feel – at the moment I feel good,” Dembele said.
“The recovery has been very slow. I thought it was going to be faster but the most important thing is that I feel good now.
“I had a good rehabilitation. The most important thing is that my ankle is strong now so I’m happy about that.”
Fulham’s progress has been hindered by their failure to win in their last seven games and the fact that they have drawn 10 games this season – more than any other team in the Barclays Premier League.
Manager Mark Hughes has the backing of chairman Mohamed Al Fayed and Dembele has seen cause for optimism in the club’s draw against Sunderland and narrow defeat at Arsenal.
He continued: “We played very well in the second half against Arsenal and we were also good against Sunderland. We attacked well and took the initiative but we didn’t have the luck.
“I think the team has been playing well but it’s not a new thing this year – we’ve played a lot of good games but we got too many draws and it has to change now. We have to win games now.
“I think our luck will come. You can’t play well and not get the points for too long. I think we’re going to start picking up points; the secret is to continue playing well. There has to be a point where it will turn and things will be with us. It’s always like that.
“If you start getting too disappointed it can have a negative effect. We have to keep focusing and I’m sure we’re going to get the points.”