Paul Lambert is hopeful of seeing Christian Benteke and Ron Vlaar back available again for the New Year's Day clash with Sunderland.
Talismanic striker Benteke [knee] has been absent for Stoke, Palace and Swansea matches.
Reliable defender Vlaar [calf], meanwhile, has missed the Fulham, Man Utd, Stoke, Palace and Swansea games aswell as the second half at Southampton.
Lambert is anticipating welcoming Benteke and Vlaar back at the Stadium of Light.
Asked about the availability of the pair, he said: "Benteke and Vlaar will hopefully come back pretty quick.
"Hopefully there's a good chance [against Sunderland].
"These aren't fringe players, these are big, big players for us.
"It's the spine of the team.
"Everyone knows that when you lose the spine of the team it can be a big hit.
"We made changes against Swansea because it was too much for us.
"We can't carry that kind of turnover of games.
"We had to do the right things. We left lads out because of the game the other day."
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