Owen Hargreaves has returned to action for Manchester United after an 18-month absence in a reserve team game against Burnley.
Hargreaves completed 45 minutes of the 2-0 win and whilst it was not the most physical of tests, he did enough to put him in line for another appearance with the second string against the same opposition at Accrington next week.
Although the 29-year-old is keen not to push himself too quickly, Sir Alex Ferguson already has a comeback plan in place for a player who could have a major role in the title run-in.
"Obviously last night, Owen Hargreaves made his comeback, which is a big boost to the boy," said Ferguson.
"I am delighted for him. He has been out of the game for 18 months, which is very difficult.
"He will need a couple of games more with the reserves. After that he should be back in the first team squad. It is a good one to get at this time of the season."
Hargreaves was forced to undergo surgery on both knees to try and combat a tendinitis problem that affected him before his £18 million arrival from Bayern Munich in 2007.
Although the England star still experiences an element of discomfort from the injury, Ferguson feels he can use the example of skipper Gary Neville - who was sidelined for even longer by a succession of muscular complaints and went on to make a successful return - as proof the battle can be won.
"We have experienced of this long interval without playing with Gary Neville," said Ferguson.
"Owen has the advantage of being a younger man. Hopefully now he is back for a continued period."