Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic is backing Chris Ikonomidis to win back his spot in the starting XI soon, but defender Osama Malik will spend at least several more frustrating weeks on the sidelines.
Ikonomidis was a star of Glory's Premiers Plate campaign last season, with his hot form earning him a Socceroos call-up.
But off-season shoulder surgery has clearly halted the momentum he had built, with the 24-year-old relegated to the bench three weeks ago.
The attacking midfielder played just three minutes off the bench in the 6-2 win over Newcastle, and was unused in the 3-0 win over Central Coast on December 31.
With Glory riding high on the back of a four-match winning streak, Ikonomidis faces a big battle to force his way back into the starting XI, starting with Saturday night's clash with Adelaide in Perth.
But Popovic has no doubt that Ikonomidis will play a valuable part in Glory's title charge during the remainder of the season.
"There's a squad and he wasn't selected for a game a couple of weeks ago, (but) that doesn't suggest that we're not happy with him," Popovic said.
"I'm sure he'll get another opportunity to start again in the near future.
"What we want is a squad that's competitive and a squad that's fighting for places, and that's no different for whether that's Chris, Bruno (Fornaroli), or Diego (Castro)."
While Ikonomidis could be back in favour as early as this weekend, the news isn't so good for Malik.
The central defender hasn't played since injuring his hamstring in the club's round four loss to Central Coast on November 3, and there's been no date set on his return.
"It's unfortunate for him and for us that he just keeps getting little setbacks in all parts of his body at the moment," Popovic said.
"We now have to be really careful with him to make sure that when he comes back he stays on the park.
"It's really a week-to-week proposition for him at the moment."
Popovic is hopeful Gregory Wuthrich (knee) will be given the green light to play.
Adelaide have lost four of their past five games to slip to sixth spot on the ladder, and they'll be without James Troisi (hamstring) for at least a fortnight.
In better news for the Reds, German import Mirko Boland could play against Glory after recovering from a knee injury.