Sir Alex Ferguson expects Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to be in contention to return for Manchester United within the next three weeks.
The England internationals have yet to play for United this season with Jones recovering from a knee operation and Smalling having been sidelined by a metatarsal injury.
Smalling had previously been in contention to return to the fold earlier this month, but it will now be November before the defensive pair are available again.
"Chris has trained with (reserve coach) Warren Joyce for a couple of days now but it is non contact at the moment," said Ferguson.
"He is being the free player in training sessions.
"But the encouraging thing is he is definitely on the way back.
"I also expect Phil Jones to start on the football side next Monday and the two of them are both only two or three weeks away."