England striker Michael Owen has spoken of his delight after taking the latest step on his road to recovery.
The 27-year-old started running yesterday for the first time since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament during the World Cup finals clash with Sweden back in June.
That means he is on track to fulfil his ambition of returning to action for club Newcastle in April, although he knows there is a long way to go before that becomes a reality.
Owen told the club's official website: 'I am happy with how things are going and I felt strong.
'The next step is to continue running and to do some ball work before joining in with training.
'I enjoyed the first 10 minutes and then it started to feel like hard work. But every step you take is a step in the right direction and it is all going great at the moment.'
Owen has made just 11 apearances for the Magpies since clinching a £17million move to Tyneside from Real Madrid in August 2005.
He was sidellined for five months last season after fracturing a metatarsal in a collision with international team-mate Paul Robinson at Tottenham, and was still regaining match fitness when disaster struck again in Germany.
His importance to his club is underlined by the fact that he had scored seven goals in 10 starts before his injury at White Hart Lane.
Manager Glenn Roeder is yet to be able to name him in his starting line-up despite being in charge at St James' Park for more than a year, and has seen him play for just 30 minutes in a goalless draw at Birmingham in the penultimate game of last season.
Roeder said: 'Because of his injury at the World Cup, I have never been allowed to write Michael Owen's name in the starting XI, which I am looking forward to doing and desperate to do.'