Chile international Charles Aranguiz could make his first appearance for Bayer Leverkusen in Friday's meeting with VfL Wolfsburg, coach Roger Schmidt has said.
The midfielder tore his Achilles tendon only weeks after his €12 million transfer from Internacional last summer and just days before his expected debut for Leverkusen in late August.
The 26-year-old, one of the stars in his country's 2015 Copa America success, had also been a Leicester City target, but opted to join the Bundesliga side because "they always showed interest."
Leverkusen hoped that his hard-running and aggressive style of play would enhance their squad, and were delighted to have "signed the player we wanted all along for our midfield."
But due to his major injury, Aranguiz has so far been unable to show his worth for the club, but could now leave his mark during the crucial stages of the season as Leverkusen battle for a return to Champions League next term.
Just like club captain Lars Bender, who last featured in October, the Chile international was part of the Leverkusen squad staying behind in Germany during the international break, and both completed all training sessions.
"It's been an extremely valuable time for both," Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt told the official club TV of Bender and Aranguiz. "They were able to make full use of the past two weeks, and it did them good. They've made another step forward."
- Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) March 29, 2016
Leverkusen are two points behind fourth-ranked Schalke 04 and currently sixth in Bundesliga.
On Friday, they host VfL Wolfsburg, who are a further four points behind Bayer, and a three points could at least eliminate the Champions League quarterfinalists from the race to qualify for Europe's biggest club competition.
Schmidt said that he's delighted to have two more options going into a match which represent "a huge chance" for the club.
"Both are really close now," he said. "Charles has been out for six months, Lars Bender has missed five months, and only featured in seven of our 27 games, which is crazy. All the nicer it is that both are stable now and can maybe play a role on Friday."