Viewers noticed this reference to the long-missing character.

During Thursday’s episode of EastEnders, fans were left wondering whether the show was hinting at a return of a popular former character.

Viewers watched on as resident hunk Jack Branning came to blows with Mel Own and the tricky Ray Kelly, of whom Jack has been suspicious ever since his arrival on the square.

And Ray likely proved Jack’s suspicions to be correct, when he brought up Jack’s young daughter Penny – and referenced the terrible accident she had.

Jack and Ray talk

He said to Jack, “Your last trip abroad was Paris to see your daughter Penny. Terrible what happened.

“All because Daddy annoyed the wrong people. Still, I believe you can live a very full life in a wheelchair.”

The darstedly Ray continued, threatening Jack saying, “See, I can find out anything about you Jack. I might already know something. So it’s really, really not a good idea to draw my attention. You never know what I’m going to come across about you…”

Jack was understandably furious about the seeming threat, but the mention of Penny left viewers wondering if she’d soon be returning to the soap.

Penny, formerly played by Mia McKenna-Bruce, hasn’t starred in the soap since 2008, when she left for France with her mother, Selina Branning.

Penny was hit by a car at a bus stop, causing immense damage to her spine. She was deliberately targeted, as Jack was a corrupt police offer, taking payments from a drug baron.

Fans of Eastenders shared their thoughts that the mention of Penny – something that hasn’t happened in a while – may suggest she is coming back to the show.

One wrote on Twitter, “They really should bring Penny back. #eastenders”, while another suggested, “They rarely mention people off screen without an agenda.”

And a third said, ‘OMG So Jack does remember his daughter Penny!!!! SHOOK! #EastEnders’.

So what do you think – will they bring Penny back to the soap?