Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher stepped up his recovery from a chronic bowl condition after training ahead of the Champions League group game against Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Scottish international hasn't featured for United since last December and is ineligible for the trip to the Ukraine after being omitted from the club's European squad for the group phase.
Fletcher made 13 appearances for club and country last season but was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign in January after undergoing surgery to cure the reoccurring problem.
The 29 year old has been included in United's Premier League squad but is yet to feature under David Moyes after abandoning hopes of a return during the club's pre-season tour to Asia.
The midfielder trained away from the United first team during the final training session ahead of the trip to Donetsk this week but his return to the club's Carrington training base is a significant sign a first-team recall is on the horizon after his season was curtailed last winter.
In September, Moyes said Fletcher was continuing to up his recovery and even hinted the Scotland skipper would feature for the club's Under-21 side in the coming weeks, a prediction which is yet to come to fruition.
"We'll give him little bits of football and just pick him up over the coming months and see how he goes," Moyes said. "There's weight to come back but the big thing is that he's back in.
"We are hopeful that this is the start of a permanent return," he added.
Fletcher's physical improvement is a timely boost to Moyes following United's 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, their third league defeat of the season.
United have often been accused of being lightweight in midfield and lacking a genuine ball-winner to compliment Michael Carrick.
Moyes possesses a host of options including Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Marouane Fellaini and Ryan Giggs, but none of the quartet can boast the capabilities of Fletcher who in his pomp at Old Trafford was an underrated figure in the club's return to dominance at the end of the last decade.
Fletcher has claimed five league titles and the Champions League with United, among 10 major honours won during 11 years with the club while he has accumulated more than 300 appearances.
But upon the revelation of his debilitating illness in 2011, Fletcher has featured infrequently for United during the last two years and his long-term future has regularly been thrown into doubt.
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