Sir Alex Ferguson is confident that Owen Hargreaves will be fit to return to action within four weeks.
The Manchester United midfielder has been plagued by a tendinitis problem for much of his career and has not played for over a year after undergoing operations on both knees.
He has undergone his rehabilitation work in the United States so far under the supervision of renowned knee surgeon Dr Richard Steadman.
Ferguson will continue to monitor Hargreaves’ progress carefully but hopes he will be available for selection at some point over the next few weeks.
“I feel it will still take us four weeks to get him into the rhythm of training again and get to the point of match play,” said the United manager.
“Normally, when a player has been out for that length of time he is helped by the fact he is doing his rehabilitation with other players.
“Because he did it on his own in the USA, under the guidance of Dr Richard Steadman, it is not easy.
“But he has the determination and resilience to see it through. He is now back with us and hopefully the boy gets a break and continues his progress without any further mishaps.”
Ferguson has dismissed fears that Hargreaves may never return to his best.
Chelsea’s Joe Cole made his first appearance since January in the Carling Cup clash with Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday and Ferguson believes time is on the side of 28-year-old Hargreaves.
“We don’t see the fact he has been out a year as a handicap,” said Ferguson.
“Other players have been out a similar length of time.
“When Joe Cole came back on Wednesday you forget he was missing for nine months. It is achievable, particularly when they are young.
“He is not kicking a ball yet. The physio who attended to him over there will stay here for a week for the changeover.
“He and our physios are discussing exactly at what stage he is at but he should be into football training quite soon.”