Manchester United reserve team boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared Rio Ferdinand ready to make a first-team return after the defender came through tonight's second string clash with Oldham.
It was the first time Ferdinand had been in action since he suffered a major knee ligament injury in a freak collision with Emile Heskey on the first day of World Cup training with England in South Africa.
The injury wrecked the 31-year-old's hopes of captaining his country on the greatest stage and also resulted in him missing the opening three games of United's Premier League challenge, plus the start of England's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
However, it seems Ferdinand is now on track to face Everton at Goodison Park on September 11 after a typically stylish performance in the low-key arena of Bower Fold in Stalybridge.
'Rio is always the same player,' said Solskjaer. 'It is a while since he has played but he was still calm.
Head boy: Ferdinand could return to first-team action sooner than expected
'He has get through an important 45 minutes, straight after two very hard training sessions yesterday and the day before so we are delighted with him.'
Solskjaer moved quickly to dispel any fears that Ferdinand's premature departure was down to a recurrence of the injury.
For a player who has struggled badly for fitness over the past two years, during which he has missed 15 England games alone, Ferdinand is desperate for an injury-free run.
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And Solskjaer confirmed he is raring to go. 'There was no problem whatsoever,' he said. 'It was always planned that he would play 45 minutes. I am not sure he needs any more games. Rio is a naturally fit lad.
Goalless when Ferdinand ended his contribution, United eventually emerged triumphant in a Manchester Senior Cup tie watched by Paul Scholes when Federico Macheda lashed home a superb left-footed strike in the latter stages to seal a 2-1 win.
Manchester United squad for 2010-11It's not quite Wembley! Rio set for United reserves run-out at StalybridgeFerdinand set to make rapid return for United in two weeks' timeMANCHESTER UNITED FC