Frank Lampard is on course to start Chelsea's crunch Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United on Sunday after making a surprise first appearance since August at Tottenham.
England midfielder Lampard had been out injured for three and a half months and was not expected to be match fit for Sunday's 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.
But he came off the bench late on as Didier Drogba missed a stoppage-time penalty that would have sent the faltering champions back to the top of the table.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti revealed afterwards that Lampard would play in a friendly match on Thursday and, all being well, would be unleashed on United this weekend.
"I think he will be able to start the next game," said the Italian, who revealed he spoke his vice-captain on Saturday about playing some part.
"He wanted to be involved in the squad, to start from the bench, and this is very good news for us."