Alex Ferguson says Nemanja Vidic has returned to Manchester United training following two months out of action after knee surgery.
Vidic suffered the setback in September, just a month after returning from a cruciate knee ligament problem, with United manager Ferguson stating at the time he did not expect his defender to return until January.
However, the 31-year-old centre-back has made good progress in his recovery, with Ferguson hinting he could make a first-team return as early as next week.
“Vidic has started training which is good news,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be averse to playing him on Wednesday (against Cluj in the UEFA Champions League).”
Ferguson still has several other injury worries, though, indicating Portuguese winger Nani will remain sidelined over the busy festive period with a hamstring problem.
Antonio Valencia is likely to be out of the English Premier League game with Reading on Saturday, but Nick Powell, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs could all feature.
“Nani and Valencia are still out,” Ferguson said.
“Nani could be four-five weeks. It’s a hamstring problem – you have to take your time with them.
“Antonio should be fit for next week. He’s got a hip injury which is painful but is getting better.
“Nick Powell has had a virus but should be okay for tomorrow.
“Scholes is back from suspension. Giggs has had a slight hamstring strain but should be okay for tomorrow. Everyone else is fine.”
Japan international Shinji Kagawa remains sidelined due to a knee injury suffered in October.
“He’s a few weeks away,” Ferguson said when asked about the former Borussia Dortmund man’s recovery.