Paddy Bradley is aiming to make his Derry comeback in Sunday's opening McKenna Cup game against Cavan.
Bradley, who helped the Oak Leafers win the competition last year, has been out since April with a knee injury.
The 2007 All Star missed the entire Championship campaign after sustaining a torn cruciate ligament while playing for his club Glenullin.
"I am not sure how much game time I am going to get in the McKenna, maybe 10-15 minutes each game," said Bradley.
"I have been given the all-clear by the specialist and the knee has been holding up well in training.
"Hopefully, everything goes well for the McKenna Cup. The rehabilitation has been tough, but I have enjoyed it.
"It was tough not being involved in the Championship last year and having to watch when Derry were playing Kildare at Croke Park.
"Last year started so well with us winning the McKenna and then just missing out on promotion in the league.
"The injury came out of the blue. It is just unfortunate it happened when it did."
After playing Cavan on Sunday, Derry play UUJ a week later and conclude their Group C campaign against Ulster champions Donegal on Wednesday, 18 January.
Eight of manager John Brennan's 26-man McKenna Cup squad have not tasted senior intercounty football before.
They include Kevin McGuckin who helped Ballinderry Shamrocks win the Derry Senior Football Championship.