Injury-plagued Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves is poised to make his first appearance in almost 18 months.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed the England international is set to play against Manchester City's reserves next week following his lengthy battle with knee problems.
The 29-year-old midfielder has started just 25 games since his £17million arrival from Bayern Munich in 2007.
He had battled tendinitis problems in both knees before United decided to send him to renowned specialist Dr Richard Steadman in Colorado last year for a double operation.
"Owen Hargreaves has shown for the first time that he is almost ready to play," said Ferguson.
"He has been training with the first team, which has been good to see and is pencilled in for a game with the reserves on Thursday."
Meanwhile, Ferguson has also confirmed that Italy Under-21 international striker Federico Macheda is close to making his own return to action following an injury lay-off.
Macheda could help fill the void created by Michael Owen's hamstring injury which will sideline the experienced striker for the remainder of the season.