Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka admits itâ€™s touch and go whether Albert Adomah will be fit enough to start against Birmingham on August 9.
The Boro winger made his first pre-season appearance of the summer in Saturdayâ€™s 3-1 victory over Rochdale.
Due to World Cup commitments, the Ghana international didnâ€™t return from his delayed summer break until last Thursday.
The 26-year-old was given almost a quarter of an hour at Spotland but, with only two further friendlies scheduled before the Championship starts on Saturday week, timeâ€™s running out to prove his all-round fitness.
Boro boss Karanka confirmed that Adomah will probably be involved at some stage against Colin Cooperâ€™s Hartlepool United tomorrow night at Victoria Park.
â€œHe had 15 minutes on Saturday and against Hartlepool he may get a bit more time on the pitch,â€ said the Boro boss, whoâ€™s pleased to have last seasonâ€™s top scorer back at the training ground.
â€œItâ€™s good heâ€™s back because he is an important player for the squad, not just on the pitch but off the pitch.â€
Asked about the possibility of Admoah playing against Birmingham, Karanka said: â€œI think the game might come too soon because heâ€™s been on holiday and just returned last week.
â€œWe need to check how he feels nearer the time.â€
One thing seems certain and thatâ€™s Adomah will be a Boro player next season - despite him being linked with several Championship clubs.
He was signed by Tony Mowbray from Bristol City in a Â£1m move last summer and is seen as a critical member of the squad as Karanka attempts to build a team capable of winning promotion to the Premier League.
With Emmanuel Ledesma out for at least three more weeks through injury and Mustapha Carayol sidelined until December at the earliest, Adomah will have a major part to play during the early weeks of the season.