Manchester United manager David Moyes said he expects Darren Fletcher to step up his fitness levels in the coming weeks, as he battles to recover from his debilitating bowel condition.
The midfielder, now 29, has featured little since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in December 2011.
Although he did make a brief reappearance early last season, playing 10 times for United as well as three for Scotland - his most recent first-team game was on Boxing Day 2012 - Fletcher underwent surgery in January which meant a further lengthy period on the sidelines.
He made his first appearance for United at any level last Monday, surviving 67 minutes for the under-21s against Fulham at Salford.
And Moyes is delighted with his progress: "It is great to get Darren back.
"It was the first time he pulled on a jersey in a competitive reserve league game (since the operation) and we're really pleased.
"We will bring him along, his training is coming along well, but we don't want to do anything that might give him a setback.
"It is a sort of steady, slow grind for him just now.
"But we are pleased and hope to involve him in the upcoming reserve games in the weeks to come, if he continues to do as well as he is doing now."