Mike Williamson has handed Newcastle a welcome boost after making a 45-minute appearance for the club's reserves in their 1-1 draw with Bolton.
The former Watford defender has been out since suffering an ankle injury in the Carling Cup clash with Scunthorpe in August.
Magpies manager Alan Pardew is short of options at centre-back and was forced to press Danny Simpson and James Perch into emergency action in the 4-2 defeat at Norwich.
"I feel completely fine. That was the plan today - to play 45, to get myself back in and try and get the cobwebs out and then train on Thursday and Friday," Williamson told his club's official website.
"It reminded me of what I've been missing. It was good and I enjoyed it. It was great to get the boots back on and now that I'm back, hopefully I can just get fitter.
"Injuries are frustrating but it's just part and parcel of football. It has been really good to see the team doing so well and enjoying the plaudits that they deserve for working so hard."
But the 28-year-old says he will not be rushing his recovery despite Newcastle having Steven Taylor ruled out for the season and Fabricio Coloccini struggling with a thigh problem.
He said: "I'll accelerate it as quickly as possible, but not to the detriment of anything.
"But my knee and ankle are completely fine now, so it's just about getting the minutes under my belt and as much fitness and running as I can."