Sir Alex Ferguson feels Alan Smith is well on the road to a first-team recall at Manchester United.
The combative forward suffered an horrific ankle injury against Liverpool in February, with the problem so serious it was initially feared he may never play again.
Smith, though, knuckled down during his rehabilitation and he returned to the team against Southend United in the Carling Cup in November.
His fitness levels were understandably well short of what was required for Premiership football.
Smith continued to work hard in training and he made a scoring return for the reserves last week.
Ferguson believes that Smith has overcome a psychological barrier by using his left foot again and feels he will soon be pushing for a place in the side.
"There has been a slight improvement in Alan each week over the last three," confirmed Ferguson.
"He is still a bit short, so we will keep him on the work he is doing.
"He is now using his left foot much more than he did three weeks ago, which is good news."