Michigan State senior forward Adreian Payne is expected to make his return Thursday against Penn State (9 p.m., ESPN2), coach Tom Izzo said today.

Payne has missed the past seven games for No. 9 MSU (19-3, 8-1 Big Ten) with a right foot sprain, but he took part in "about a third" of Monday's practice, Izzo said.

"How much he'll play on Thursday, I wish I knew," said Izzo, who added that Payne has made "significant progress" with the foot.

"There's nothing more, medically, we can do," Izzo said. Payne's pain tolerance will be the key.

Izzo also said that junior forward Branden Dawson has the stitches out of his broken right hand, but his timetable for a return remains four weeks, at best, from the time of the injury. That would have him back late this month.

The Spartans play at Wisconsin on Sunday in a key game in the Big Ten race, so Thursday is a chance to get Payne involved in the rotation again.

Of course, the Nittany Lions (12-10, 3-6) have won three straight games and seem to be a much better team than the one MSU beat, 79-63, on Dec. 31.

"This game is very concerning to me," Izzo said