ALEX LAWLESS is ready to return to the Forest Green ranks for their Boxing Day trip to Kidderminster Harriers in the Blue Square Premier.
Out since November 22 due to a combination of back and hamstring injuries, the Welsh midfielder is one of Rovers' most reliable performers and has been sorely missed.
His absence was never more strongly felt than in Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Kettering Town, which plunged the Nailsworth club back into the bottom four after a mini revival.
Lawless has spent the past fortnight training with specially-developed insoles in his boots in an attempt to rectify a biomechanical problem, and it appears to have done the trick.
Rovers manager Jim Harvey said: "Alex should be back this week, which is good news and a big plus for us.
"I think we also missed (the suspended) Jonathan Smith on Saturday, and those two boys could make the difference."
Harvey's side never recovered from conceding twice in three first-half minutes against Kettering, the first scored by Alfie Potter after poor defending from a free-kick.
Gareth Seddon grabbed the second from the penalty spot after Darran Kempson was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area, leaving the hosts shellshocked after dominating the opening throes of the match.
Harvey said: "Our defending for the first goal was disappointing. That sort of thing has been killing us this season.
"I don't know about the referee for the second one – the fella just headed it from a yard away and it hit Darran on the arm.
"I thought they (Kettering) were lacklustre and slow to get going in the first 20 minutes, and that was our opportunity. But we didn't show any ability or urgency in the attacking third to expose them and we should have made more of that time.
"We had a lot of possession, but slowly and surely they fell into a rhythm and started to sit deep on us and we couldn't break them down.
"In games like that you needed skill and quality, and with that goes desire, courage and commitment.
"We've got boys who will run about and are dead keen and others who are very talented. Trying to combine the two is proving very difficult."