Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand will make his long-awaited comeback in a reserve team game against Oldham Athletic on Wednesday.
The England captain has been out injured with a knee ligament problem since a freak collision with Emile Heskey on the first day of training at the World Cup in South Africa ruled him out of the tournament.
Ferdinand, 31, has missed United's first three games of the Premier League season but if he comes through Wednesday's Manchester Senior Cup tie it will mark a rapid recovery.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson had originally stated that Ferdinand would not be fit to return until the end of September.
If Ferdinand comes through the Oldham match unscathed he is expected to come into contention for a first-team comeback at Everton on September 11, which represents the start of a hectic week that also includes home games against Rangers and Liverpool.
Ferdinand will be joined in the United line-up by Wes Brown, midfielder Anderson - who is also on his way back from long-term injury - and Federico Macheda.