A welcome sight for Man United fans as Nemanja Vidic is back in full training and could return to first-team action within a fortnight.
The United skipper has been out of action since late September after undergoing a meniscus operation on the same knee that saw him miss most of last season.
Vidic has experienced no problems or setbacks since he began training with the United first-team squad and has impressed the club’s medical staff with his progress.
The 31-year-old defender was given an initial return date of late November, but Sir Alex Ferguson then revealed he did not expect his captain back until around Christmas.
Vidic was not expected back from a serious knee injury until Christmas, but the United captain has returned to training ahead of schedule.
Ferguson said that the Serbia defender could even play in next week’s Champions League tie with Cluj at Old Trafford.
“I wouldn’t be adverse to playing him,” he told the club’s website.
“Good defenders win you the league. It would be nice to play him on Wednesday in the Champions League against Cluj.”
“Vidic has probably only played about 10 or 12 games in the last 18 months,” added Ferguson.
“He started training during the week and he’s done OK. He hasn’t been involved in the really competitive part, but at least he’s back with the rest.”
The Manchester derby at Eastlands on December 9 is that is probably too big a game to risk Vidic in, considering how little he has played this season.
And there will be no desire among United’s medical staff to rush Vidic back and risk him suffering another injury.
Vidic was ruled out for the season last December when he twisted his right knee and suffered cruciate ligament damage in an away defeat to Swiss side Basel which saw United exit the Champions League at the group stage.
He made his comeback in United’s first game of the season, a 1-0 defeat at Everton, but went under the knife again in September.