Rio Ferdinand is set to end his three-month injury lay-off by returning to action for Manchester United against Hull City on Saturday.
Ferdinand, 31, has not figured for Manchester United since the 2-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield last October.
The England defender has been troubled by calf and back injuries during that period and there had even been speculation that his injuries could dash his hopes of figuring in the World Cup this summer.
But United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Ferdinand is now ready to make his long-awaited comeback against Phil Brown’s team.
Ferguson said: “Rio will play against Hull tomorrow, so that’s good news for us.
“He has been training very well for the last few weeks and this is the right time to bring him back.
“It’s been a while since he started training and he has been doing his endurance work. He has done really well.
“It’s a big boost to have him back. We have had so many injuries at the back this season with Rio, Nemanja Vidic, Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans all having problems.
“It’s a big loss to be without such key players for big parts of the season.
“But Rio coming back now can only be good for us.”
United can go top of the Premier League on Saturday if they defeat Hull in the only league game to be played on FA Cup fourth round weekend.
And Ferguson is also boosted with Dimitar Berbatov overcoming the dead leg that forced him to miss Tuesday’s Carling Cup semi-final first-leg defeat at Manchester City.
The fall-out from that fixture continues to fuel controversy, with United captain Neville and City forward Carlos Tevez at the heart of the row.
Former United forward Tevez has described Neville as a sycophant and a moron following the defender’s alleged obscene gesture towards him.
But Ferguson played down the bust-up by insisting he did not see it.
He said: “I didn’t see that at all. I’m not interested (about Tevez), he’s not our player any more.
“Players argue and have a go at each other all the time. We move on.”