Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that Owen Hargreaves could be in the Manchester United squad to face Chelsea on Saturday.
The midfielder has not played for United since September 2008 after undergoing surgery on both knees but has been gradually stepping up his rehabilitation in recent months.
He has turned out for the reserves and trained with the first team as Ferguson looks to ease him back into action before the end of the season.
The United manager is also keen for John O'Shea to return to the fold, with the Republic of Ireland international having had complications in his recovery from a dead leg.
Ferguson intends to select either Hargreaves or O'Shea against Chelsea and the other when United face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
Although it appears O'Shea is further forward on the comeback trail, the fact that Hargreaves is not part of United's European squad suggests he will be the one on the bench this weekend.
"John O'Shea and Owen Hargreaves have trained very well with the first team," said Ferguson.
"They are not far away and I may use one of them as substitute tomorrow and the other on Wednesday.
"John O'Shea in particular has done a lot of work. The boy has come on terrifically well in the last two or three weeks.
"If I include one tomorrow and one on Wednesday it will give them the confidence that they are back.
"That is what they need."