The San Carlo Honda Gresini team hopes to make a decision on Marco Simoncelli's 2010 MotoGP team-mate by the end of this month.

Rising star Simoncelli, the reigning 250cc world champion, was announced as moving to the premier-class for the satellite RC212V outfit at Assen on June 24.

Toni Elias, who has a factory spec Honda, and Alex de Angelis presently occupy the two Gresini seats, but sit just 13th and 14th in the world championship standings after eight of 17 rounds.

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Their seasons have gone in opposite directions, results wise, with Elias claiming a best of sixth last Sunday at Laguna Seca, while de Angelis claimed his best result - also sixth - at round one in Qatar.

During the US GP, the team (unsurprisingly) told that Elias and de Angelis are in contention for the second 2010 seat, but also confirmed that former rider Marco Melandri is on the shortlist.

Melandri won five races and claimed 17 podiums as a Gresini Honda rider between 2005 and 2007, when he also finished runner-up to Valentino Rossi in the 2005 World Championship, before a disastrous switch to Ducati.

The Italian's grand prix career was then thrown into even greater doubt when Kawasaki, for whom he had signed to ride this season, withdrew over the winter.

A deal to run Melandri on an unofficial, and undeveloped, 2009 ZX-RR run under the Hayate banner was subsequently thrashed out.

Melandri's main goals upon accepting the Hayate deal was to rebuild his reputation and secure a competitive seat for 2010 - the first part of which he achieved with three top-six finishes from the first four rounds, including a superb second place at the wet/dry Le Mans race.

The second part, a competitive 2010 seat, is looking ever more likely, and a return to Gresini Honda would surely fit that bill.

Officially, Melandri is still waiting to hear if Hayate/Kawasaki will continue in MotoGP next year before looking elsewhere, but a factory Kawasaki return seems highly unlikely.

The first signs of any change in Kawasaki's reluctant MotoGP presence would surely be new parts for the Hayate project, something which - despite gentle pressure from Melandri - doesn't appear to have happened.

With rival machines continuing to improve, Melandri has claimed just one top ten finish in the four rounds since Le Mans. The 26-year-old also cracked his hand at the Catalunya test.

Gresini Honda hopes to make a decision on its second rider by the end of July. The MotoGP summer break starts after the British Grand Prix on July 26.

Additional reporting by Lynne Huntting.