The Ecuador star has been out of action since August after suffering an horrific ankle injury against West Ham at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson said at the time that Valencia might be back in action by the end of February, and United's medical staff are still working to that timescale.
Down but not out: Valencia's recovery is progressing faster than United had predicted
However, the mere fact Valencia is now working under their complete control is a significant pointer towards a full recovery.
And, given the 25-year-old's outstanding form in his first season at Old Trafford following his £17million arrival from Wigan, having him back midway through a two-legged European clash with Marseille has offered Ferguson some good news.
'Antonio is doing well now,' said Ferguson. 'He has got the all-clear from the doctors and is under our complete control now, which is great news.
'He has started his running programme and is with the physios every day, which is a big step forward.
'Possibly he should be back in the first-team squad towards the end of February, which is a big boost to us and something to look forward to.' Sign me up, Fergie! United veteran Giggs wants new deal at Old Trafford Mancini tips Chelsea to bounce back in race for Premier League titleI love playing with Roo! Wayne on high over link-up with Berbatov at UnitedAll the latest Manchester United news, features and opinion
Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Antonio Valencia Places: Ecuador